Chelsea prevents Sporting Lisbon from advancing in Champions League
LONDON (AP) — Sporting Lisbon was eliminated from the Champions League after losing 3-1 at Chelsea on Wednesday, with the Portuguese side surrendering second place to Schalke in the final round of games in Group H.
Sporting required a point at Stamford Bridge to guarantee finishing runner-up behind the already qualified Premier League leaders, but slipped to 2-0 down after 16 minutes thanks to goals by Cesc Fabregas and Andre Schurrle.
Jonathan Silva reduced the deficit for Sporting in the 50th but John Obi Mikel's close-range goal in 56th ensured there was no way back for the visitors.
Schalke got the victory it needed at Maribor, winning 1-0 to finish a point above third-place Sporting, which drops into the Europa League. Chelsea was undefeated in group play, winning four games and drawing twice.
With first place assured, Chelsea took the opportunity to rest key players like Eden Hazard, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Thibaut Courtois but still had too much for a Sporting team missing Nani, the in-form winger on loan from Manchester United.
Fabregas — played just behind striker Diego Costa — calmly stroked a penalty into the center of the goal in the eighth minute after Filipe Luis was fouled by Ricardo Esgaio, having slipped the ball through the legs of the Sporting defender.
It got worse for the visitors when Nemanja Matic passed the ball to Schurrle, who beat his marker on the edge of the penalty and fired a low shot just inside the post. Sporting threatened sporadically but back-up goalkeeper Petr Cech wasn't seriously tested until a shot from Silva flew past him into the net after Chelsea's defense only cleared a cross out to the edge of the box.
Within six minutes, Chelsea restored its two-goal advantage when Gary Cahill flicked on a free kick from Fabregas and Mikel tapped into an empty net from close range.