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Monday 18 December 2017

Chelsea have to settle for group runner-up spot

Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 1

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard celebrates Savic’s own goal that ensured the Blues topped Group C at Stamford Bridge last night
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard celebrates Savic’s own goal that ensured the Blues topped Group C at Stamford Bridge last night

Chelsea finished second in Champions League Group C after rallying to draw 1-1 with Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues, already through, needed a win to secure top spot, but fell behind to Saul Niguez's header as Atletico sought the victory they needed to have any chance of progressing.

Chelsea had chances, with Jan Oblak frustrating Alvaro Morata and Andreas Christensen heading wide, before Eden Hazard's run forced Stefan Savic to turn the ball into his own net.

Substitute Willian might have won it for Chelsea, who instead had to settle for a draw which saw them finish behind Roma on head-to-head records.

Roma's 1-0 win over Qarabag means Atletico and former Chelsea striker Diego Costa will play Europa League football in 2018.

Davide Zappacosta, on the left to give Marcos Alonso a rest, cut in and fired over after two minutes before former Chelsea striker Fernando Torres' shot deflected over off Cesar Azpilicueta.

Former Real striker Morata and Hazard, who has been heavily linked with Atletico's city rivals, combined to devastating effect in the reverse fixture in September.

Cynical

And the pair showed signs of doing so once again. Hazard was chopped down with regularity by cynical tackles, but kept running at the visitors.

Morata had three chances in quick succession. First Hazard left Christensen's pass and Morata turned and shot wide from the edge of the area.

Next Morata prodded at goal from Victor Moses' cross and Oblak saved. The goalkeeper next flapped away a shot at an acute angle from Chelsea's Spain striker.

Oblak then scrambled Zappacosta's deflected shot around the post.

Christensen had a header saved from Hazard's cross before Oblak denied Morata again after Hazard's run and deflected shot wide.

Atletico had opportunities, too. Filipe Luis, who spent one season at Stamford Bridge, hit the post from 25 yards. Koke headed the rebound straight at Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper who spent three years at Atletico on loan from Chelsea.

Courtois was beaten when Chelsea old boy Torres headed Koke's corner on to the far post for Niguez to divert the ball in with a free header.

Christensen levelled soon afterwards following another direct run by Hazard. His shot deflected off Savic and into the net.

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