Champions League: Mourinho backs Blues Euro bid after monster Matic seals win

Ross McLean
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Midfielder Nemanja Matic scored the winner against his former club Benfica’s main rivals

CONFIDENT Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists his side’s Champions League fate rests in their own hands after the Blues seized control of Group G with a hard-earned victory against Sporting Lisbon last night.

The visitors dominated for large parts of the game but were denied on numerous occasions by Sporting keeper Rui Patricio, although his barricade was breached by former Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic who proved the match-winner with a first-half header.

With Chelsea the only team in their group to record a win after Schalke drew with Slovenian champions Maribor – the Stamford Bridge club’s next European opponents – Mourinho was content to overlook his side’s wastefulness in front of goal and focus on other facets of their game.

“We can control our destiny and the reality is we now play Maribor at Stamford Bridge and if we beat them that’s seven points, which isn’t enough but it would give us stability,” said Mourinho. “We didn’t kill the game against Sporting but we played so well, so compact with so much confidence and control. I think once again our four defenders plus Matic and Fabregas had complete dominance, I think Matic was a monster.”

Chelsea threatened inside two minutes as Diego Costa took advantage of Sporting’s high defensive line to sprint onto Fabregas’ through ball only for Patricio to deflect the Spanish forward’s shot over the crossbar.

Skipper Patricio had already prevented Andre Schurrle opening the scoring by the time the German World Cup winner screwed wide from point-blank range midway through the half.

The visitors finally marked their dominance with a goal when Serbia’s Matic looped a 34th minute header over Patricio from Fabregas’ floated free-kick to the far post.

On-loan Manchester United winger Nani squandered Sporting’s best chance, only finding the side-netting after the ball fell invitingly in the box.

Brazil full-back Filipe Luis then dragged a shot across goal late on before Patricio’s heroics continued in stoppage time when he thwarted substitute Mohamed Salah.