Chelsea left it late to snatch a vital three points in the Champions League group stage after Willian’s 83rd-minute free-kick spared Mourinho his job.
The Portuguese, widely reported to have as little as two games left as Chelsea boss if the rot did not stop, will be breathing a heavy sigh of relief tonight after the Brazilian’s majestic free-kick nestled into the top corner, an almost instanteous reply to Kiev’s equaliser which threatened to unsettle the hosts.
It means the Blues, who are far adrift in the Premier League and out of the League Cup, can look to the Champions League for respite and the Blues are now sitting in second place with two games to go.
Mourinho has had to deal with plenty of criticism this past week with rumours of dressing room unrest, and even though the Special One insists he knows the reasons for the slump, his refusing to tell speaks volumes. Never-the-less, knowing the problem is only half the problem and the other half — how to solve the problem — looked a little harder to find, but Mourinho was clearly looking for inspiration with his whole family in the dug-out to support him, including wife and daughter who are not known to be keen football fans.
In truth it was a display he can be pleased with, despite the score-line.
Oscar was well found when hovering around the penalty spot but his tame shot was easily saved. Chelsea’s best route to goal continued to be set-pieces, be they free-kicks or corners, with Dynamo eager to commit as many fouls as possible.
But despite good link-up play the fundamental part of scoring a goal was lacking: the final touch. Time and again excellent work by Willian found absolutely no-one in the box, with Costa eager to drag the ball wide. The Spaniard has not found his predatory instinct this season and has preferred to hide on the wings.
With the flurry of chances Chelsea had, one had to go on. Azpilicueta’s cross had Oscar with the goal gaping, but with the ball stuck in the air for seemingly an eternity, Dynamo got men back to tactically push Oscar out of position from a simple nod.
The next probe would reap a goal. Willian and Chelsea’s right-wing was the greatest source of threat and when the next ball came in from that side, it did not need Costa to run into the box or any other Chelsea player for that matter, as Dragovic was risk-averse enough to score an own goal. It was the break Chelsea needed, and deserved.
But so often Chelsea have failed to hold leads and it was nearly deja vu but Zouma’s pace spared Zouma’s blushes from his indecision with a superb last-ditch sliding tackle after initially allowing his runner to evade him. Had that been John Terry making that mistake, it may have been a different result.
The second goal looked to be coming but it was just not coming quickly enough. Willian’s header towards goal from three yards out had to ripple the net but somehow found the goalkeeper with relative ease.
Zouma has an even easier chance to score but he stuck a leg out too quickly and it bobbled awkwardly off his calf to safety, in a chance that was harder to miss.
Oscar’s first-time left-foot shot was aimed for the top-left corner but was clawed out superbly; was it ever going to come for Chelsea?
Players were sent to warm up as you coculd sense Mourinho sending on Cahill or Loftus-Cheek to try to hold onto a 1-0 lead, but the dangers were apparent and realised when Dynamo equalised.
Hesitation between Begovic and Terry saw the captain clear for a corner, and from the result, Dragovic made amends at the other end by rifling home. It was a howler by Begovic, who had been alert all game.
As seen in recent games, this would be the point Falcao came on, Chelsea chased and the opponent scored the winner. The plans for Cahill were abandoned — or rather postponed — for Hazard and Pedro, who could inject another level of fear into the defenders.
But it was Willian again. The Brazilian has been Chelsea’s bright spark in a season dominated by who is not performing, but you can count on Willian. Another set-piece opportunity invited Willian to have a go and his delicious free-kick flew over the wall and into the net with plenty of zip and dip.
It was not pretty at times, and it felt like another “oh no here we go again” moment, but a win is all that will matter for Mourinho tonight.
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Man of the Match
WILLIAN: Quietly carried Chelsea over the last weeks, and though one man cannot carry a whole team, without the Brazilian Chelsea’s recent run may have been even worse. The winger has risen to responsibility where Hazard has wilted and has shown his prowess in decision-making and set-pieces. He will need to inject some of his drive into his team-mates for a successful squad. 7/10
Mourinho’s relief was there for all to see: “The win is a big relief. The players deserve to get compensation for their hard work. The difference today was that we had confidence in the negative moment. The fans recognise I’m a good pro, brought a great moment and have had great memories. Until my last day in this club, I will give everything to them.”