Dynamo Kiev and Chelsea canceled each other out Tuesday night in Ukraine, but the resulting 0-0 draw will certainly make the visiting English side the happier of two punchless teams.
Although Chelsea remain third in Group G they are just a point behind Dynamo Kiev with the return match set for Stamford Bridge in two weeks. The Ukrainian champions have never beaten an English side on English soil so their hold on second place in the group may be tenuous.
Chelsea certainly did enough to win in the Olympic Stadium looking far more likely to break the deadlock, but their lack of precision at the vital moment undid their effort. The woodwork also helped the home side to collect a point as both Eden Hazard and Willian saw their shots kept out, the first by a post, the second by the crossbar.
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Dynamo Kiev fashioned little in the way of cutting edge counters and wasted a fair share of possession as Chelsea’s defense was solid and smart. Kurt Zouma and César Azpilicueta were especially effective out wide while Gary Cahill and John Terry did what was necessary in the center.
Chelsea was well on top in the opening half-hour and could well have been two goals ahead.
As early as the fifth minute Fabregas broke in on the left and forced a save from Olexander Shovkovskiy, and four minutes later the Kiev keeper had to be at full stretch to just finger-tip that curling Hazard shot off his left-hand post.
The London Blues were dominant in midfield, forcing errors from their counterparts who gave possession away far too cheaply. The result was Chelsea doing all of the attacking work with Fabregas perhaps unlucky not have his 16th minute penalty claim given by Slovenian referee Damir Skomina. On replay, it looked as if the Chelsea attacker had been tripped up by Serhiy Rybalka in the box on the left, but Skomina had a good look at the play in real time and showed no interest in an award.
‘It is a clear penalty,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. ”The referee didn’t see it, the referee decided not to give it, I don’t know.”
Three minutes later a fine free kick from Willian just skidded past the outstreched Diego Costa in close and Nemanja Matic missed another opportunity in the 20th minute after he wove past defenders on his run down the inside right channel only to chip his attempt past the open left corner. Those misses turned out to be vital because Dynamo did tighten things up after the initial flurry and Chelsea had not taken advantage of their real supremancy.
The hosts weathered that early storm and began to assert themselves, but their halftime edge in possession did not lead to any real problems for Asmir Begovic or his defense. Dynamo lacked the necessary speed of ball movement and the individual technique to take on and beat the solid Chelsea midfield and backline.
Willian became the second Chelsea shooter to hit the woodwork when he was brought down just outside the box by Rybalka a minute into the second half. He rapped his free kick off the bar from 24 meters with Shovkovskiy rooted on the line.
Begovic finally had to be both alert and good to parry away a drive from Derlis Gonzalez just past the hour, then palmed away a cross from the resulting action off a corner but Chelsea still looked the more likely to score as the match reached the closing stages, even the hard-working Andriy Yarmolenko unable to conjure anything for Dynamo.