Sunday 21 January 2018

Predator Eto'o stakes claim with brace

Chelsea 3 Schalke 0

Henry Winter

Samuel Eto'o demonstrated his enduring brilliance as a predator supreme with two goals that met Jose Mourinho's demand to his players to show more "ambition."

Eto's first came via a superb piece of anticipation and his second was a clinical finish.

Chelsea now lead Group E with nine points, three clear of Schalke, and victory at Basel on November 26 guarantees their place in the last 16.

It was not simply the win, the masterclass from the 32-year-old Eto'o and a composed late finish from Demba Ba, that will have delighted Mourinho. He had been frustrated by Chelsea's loss to Newcastle and craved a hungrier, sharper display, and his players delivered.

They all worked hard, chasing the ball, closing Schalke down, particularly Eto'o, Andre Schurrle, Oscar and Willian.

For all Chelsea's industry, they were also indebted to Schalke's Timo Hildebrand for a wretched piece of goalkeeping midway through the first half, allowing Eto'o to pounce.

It was a bad mistake and he was taunted by the home fans for the rest of the game.

Hildebrand thought he was making a routine kick downfield after 31 minutes. He forgot that Eto'o is the type of striker who preys on any lack of concentration by a goalkeeper. Eto'o was watching like a hawk, waiting for the moment that Hildebrand dropped the ball to the floor. The Schalke 'keeper stepped back and then moved forward, bringing his right foot towards the ball.

This was something for 'What Happened Next' aficionados. Hildebrand was staring down the pitch. Eto'o, the sultan of stealth, was already racing in from an angle, timing his run perfectly to block the kick which rebounded at speed into the empty net.

Schalke had a couple of chances, but Eto'o was clearly in the mood. After 54 minutes, Willian burst through the middle and slipped the ball right to Eto'o. His first touch nudged the ball into optimum shooting position and his second drilled it right-footed past Hildebrand.

the 'keeper then had another awkward moment when a poor clearance fell to Oscar, but the Brazilian was just offside as he lifted the ball back in over Hildebrand. Eto'o was then replaced by Ba, departing to the inevitable and deserved standing ovation.

Mourinho was removing his hard-working players. Schurrle came off for Kevin de Bruyne and then Oscar was replaced by Frank Lampard, who was involved in the third goal.

Ba chested a long ball to Willian. The Brazilian found Lampard, who lifted the ball over the defence to Ba, and he hooked it past Hildebrand.

At the final whistle, Petr Cech went over to console Hildebrand, who then headed to the Schalke fans. Even then they refused to fall quiet, but their team had fallen silent long before. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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