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Chelsea scrape past Sporting despite keeper Patricio’s heroics

Sporting Lisbon keeper Rui Patricio will be feeling somewhat disappointed that his teammates were unable to replicate his fine display at the other end, as the Lions were killed off by Chelsea at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic got the sole goal past the Portugal stopper in the 34th minute from an inventive header that ultimately puts his side top of Champions League Group G, but Patricio was equal to six other shots on target.

New prolific star Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who started this time in this competition, couldn’t even find a way past the Sporting number one, and had a fantastic chance to do so in the opening minutes. The Spain international beat the offside trap to make a terrific run to go one-on-one, but could only find Patricio’s outstretched leg.

Another forward player who is usually so reliable in front of goal for Jose Mourinho’s side (odds-on at 1/10 to top their group), Andre Schurrle, was also wasteful.

At the back, though, the Blues were solid, allowing just three shots on target, with John Terry, who was playing in his 100th Champions League game (only the sixth Englishman to do so), a rock once more.

Sporting’s best chance, though, came near the end from Manchester United loanee Nani, but the winger was unable to convert his curling long-ranged left-footed shot.

Filipe Luis and forgotten man Mohamed Salah also came close to doubling Chelsea’s scoreline at the death, but the Londoners managed to cling on and take the three points. They are the only side in their group, also containing Schalke and Maribor, to get a victory so far from their opening two games

Following the game, Mourinho was just happy to win, saying: “This is not knockout where goals are fundamental. This is points. We lost two points at home; we recovered that.

“Because of the other [1-1] draw [between Schalke and Maribor], we put ourselves not in a comfortable position, but in one where we can control our destiny.

“We play two games against Maribor. If we manage six points, that would be 10 and job done.

“Now we have just to focus on beating Maribor, which I believe is not easy. To draw in Germany means something.”

Sporting, who have one point after two games, are 16/1 third favourites to win Group G, and 9/4 to qualify. Chelsea, meanwhile, are 6/1 to claim the Champions League title.