John Terry stretchered off as Chelsea secure back-to-back wins for first time in two months
MACCABI TEL AVIV 0 CHELSEA 4
Chelsea's Champions League fate will go to the final group game after an unconvincing 4-0 win over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv earned successive victories for the first time in two months.
Porto's home loss to Dynamo Kiev means progression from Group G is by no means certain for Chelsea, who beat Norwich last Saturday and host Jose Mourinho's former side in Europe on December 9.
A draw should be enough for the Blues to advance to the knockout stages.
Gary Cahill scored from a corner and former Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim was shown a straight red card before half-time for a wild kick at Diego Costa, who had an altercation with Mourinho at the interval.
Willian added a free-kick strike - his sixth set-piece goal of the season - Oscar headed in a third and Kurt Zouma a fourth at Haifa's Sammy Ofer Stadium to put a gloss on the scoreline.
There was plenty for Mourinho to ponder, though, after a bust up with Costa and with John Terry departing on a stretcher with a foot injury.
Mourinho and Costa had a frank exchange as the teams left the field for half-time and Loic Remy was sent out to warm-up.
But Costa completed the game as Chelsea struggled to assert themselves and lost their talismanic skipper to injury.
Mourinho was also less than impressed by a pitch which he took it upon himself to repair after Cahill's goal, replacing large divots near his technical area.
Just a third win in 11 Champions League away games - and first in a year, since the 5-0 victory at Schalke - earned the Blues successive wins for the first time in two months, when they beat Maccabi Tel Aviv, Arsenal and Walsall in consecutive games in September.
Tottenham await in the London derby on Sunday. Chelsea lost 5-3 at White Hart Lane on January 1 and a third straight win would be a real sign of a resurgence.
Maccabi Tel Aviv were the only team in the group stage yet to register a point and had scored one goal prior to the contest.
Chelsea won 4-0 at Stamford Bridge, but Mourinho guarded against complacency by reminding his men of last season at Maribor, when the Blues drew in Slovenia after a 6-0 drubbing in London.
Former Watford boss and ex-Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic's side - playing 60 miles from home in a venue more suitable to European football - began well with Dor Peretz heading over and Nosa Igiebor slicing wide following yet more uncertain Chelsea defending.
The Blues' approach play was strong, but lacked the finishing touches and Cesar Azpilicueta shot wide before Baba Rahman centred, only for Chelsea's forwards to be absent.
Chelsea went in front when Cahill met Willian's corner, Predrag Rajkovic turned the ball on to the post and the defender met the rebound with a simple tap in.
Mourinho turned groundsman aware that his team had more repair work to do before Ben Haim was shown a straight red for a kick which appeared more mis-timed than malicious.
It was still far from easy for Chelsea as Asmir Begovic was required to spread himself to deny Eli Dasa and made a finger-tip save from Eran Zahavi after Azpilicueta had been denied by Rajkovic.
Terry was in agony after a challenge in midfield and departed as Willian lined-up a free-kick which he subsequently curled in.
Rahman then crossed for Oscar to head in a third and Zouma added a fourth.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Oscar makes it three and it's a job well done @ChelseaFC" - former England cricketer Alec Stewart was enjoying the show.
Asmir Begovic: 7 (out of 10)
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6
Baba Rahman: 6
Gary Cahill: 6
John Terry: 6
Nemanja Matic: 5
Cesc Fabregas: 6
Diego Costa: 4
Eden Hazard: 5
Pedro (for Hazard, 69): 6
Kurt Zouma (for Terry, 72): 6
Loic Remy (for Willian, 79): 6
Willian: So often this season the Brazilian has been the shining light for Chelsea amid the mediocrity. He was once more in Haifa, scoring a superb free-kick goal before taking a rest in preparation for White Hart Lane on Sunday.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Mourinho was furious with Costa at the interval, with the pair involved in a frank exchange as the teams left the field. Costa ended a six-match scoreless streak against Norwich, but should have had more than one. Loic Remy was sent out to warm up, but Costa stayed on. Mourinho will demand more from his striker, though.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Four changes were made following the win over Norwich, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Baba Rahman, Gary Cahill and Oscar restored in place of Branislav Ivanovic, Kenedy, Kurt Zouma and Pedro. Eden Hazard moved back to his customary left-wing role, having started as the central playmaker against the Canaries. Mourinho turned to his bench for the final quarter, but the game against limited opponents was already won.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
The pitch. Mourinho, who complained about the surface beforehand, looked like he was tempted to run on to replace the divots as soon as they appeared in the opening skirmishes. And he did, once Cahill had scored, turning groundsman by replacing large chunks of turf near his technical area. It looked like he had golf shoes on for the occasion.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Tottenham v Chelsea (Barclays Premier League, Sunday, November 29)