In a match that Chelsea managed to make more complicated than it ought to have been, the Blues labored to 1-0 win.
The English side missed chance after chance in a match that could easily have ended with Chelsea scoring 7 goals.
However as the match wore on, Sporting Lisbon clawed their way back into the match and they threatened to score an equalizer, with the left winger Nani on loan from Manchester United, being exceptionally lively.
One on one opportunities for Costa, Salah and Oscar saw the Sporting goal keeper pull off some very exceptional saves.
Chelsea are top of the their Champions League group table, with a draw in the other group game between Schalke and Maribor leaving the London side as clear favorites to top the table.
Here are 5 things we learnt from the exciting encounter:
1. Patricio is a spectacular goal-keeper
The Benfica shot stopper was the difference between the eventual 1-0 score line and what could have been an embarrassing 7-0 drubbing. The Benfica goalie saved what seemed liked definite goals from three different attackers bearing down on him. Even though the Portuguese side lost the game, keeping a respectable goal difference may help his side at the end of the day.
2. Chelsea need to take their chances
Costa, Salah, Schurrle and Oscar all missed what should have been easy goals. For a period towards the end, the game seemed like it was heading towards the same path as Chelsea’s first game in which an equalizer came in the dying minutes. At the end of the day, Chelsea’s incompetence in front of goal did not cost them the match.
3. Nemanja Matic was the best player on the pitch
The Serbian dominated every area of the pitch in which he appeared. He was a screen in front of the defense and sometimes cleared up after his defenders. He dropped deep to orchestrate play and even found time to occasionally gave the final passes.
Getting the only goal of the match was just an icing on his unbelievably amazing game.
4. The same exact team might play against Arsenal
Although this clash was important for the Blues, it was obvious that the Chelsea manager was using this match to experiment on both tactics and personnel for the Arsenal weekend clash. With Ramires absent due to injury, Jose Mourinho will have to decide if he should go for the double pivot of Mikel and Matic in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 with Oscar and Fabregas flanking Matic in a 3 man midfield.
5. Chelsea need a suitable partner for Matic
If Chelsea is to continue using a double pivot, they will have to make sure they acquire a suitable partner to Matic, who is usually the only one trying to hold the midfield together. Mikel represents a drop in quality, while Ramires is more suited to a 4-3-3.
The Blue’s ability to spend on a quality midfielder this January will go a long way to boost their chances in all competitions.