Jose Mourinho named a strong starting eleven as Chelsea headed to Slovenia to face Maribor, with the home team eager to put things straight after an embarrassing night in London.
The home side did just that, pulling off a great result on a night where Chelsea could have sealed qualification for the next round.
Chelsea started this Champions League tie where they left off in the last, and were very attacking from the off. After just 7 minutes, the ball found Cesc Fabregas out wide from a Chelsea corner. The midfielder placed a floated ball into the box and young French defender Kurt Zouma headed marginally wide.
Maribor were much improved since the previous meeting and posed a threat on a couple of occasions, with Zouma having to clear off of the line midway through the first-half. As the first-half went on, a disciplined and compact Maribor side were stopping Chelsea from strining passes together.
As well as creating a few half chances, the Slovenian side were also defending well. Chelsea’s general play was slow and poor and the sides went in at half-time with the score still 0-0.
Mourinho made his intentions clear at the start of the second-half by making a double change, bringing on Diego Costa and Oscar for Andre Schurrle and Willian respectively.
The substitutes failed to make an instant impact and Chelsea were made to pay. In the 49th minute, Maribor winger Ibrahimi had the time and space to control the ball on the edge of the Chelsea area. He then delicately bent the ball around Petr Cech into the top corner; a stunning goal that sent a lively crowd into dreamland.
This was definitely a wake up call for the Blues. A trademark jinking run from Eden Hazard created space for Costa in the area, but the Spaniard blasted over from close range.
Maribor could have sealed victory at the hour mark, after Chelsea replaced Filipe Luis with Ramires, leaving just three at the back. Struggling to cope in the wide areas, Maribor took advantage. After a pass across the face of the box, Zahovic failed to put it away from close range.
Chelsea got back on track in the 73rd minute, with an equaliser coming from a corner-kick. Fabregas’ bending corner found John Terry, whose header looked destined for the net, however, Nemanja Matic arrived late at the back post to tap it in, claiming his second Champions League goal this season.
Maribor had their goalkeeper Handovic to thank for keeping them in the game, thanks to a number of great saves, denying Hazard from close range and a stopping a powerful Diego Costa volley.
Chelsea started to increase the speed of the game and Maribor were starting to struggle. Diego Costa put the ball into the back of the net after a square pass from Cesc Fabregas, but the Spaniard was judged offside. However, replays later showed Fabregas to be onside.
Chelsea were given a golden opportunity to take all three points late on, when Eden Hazard, who was causing danger in and around the penalty area, was taken down in the 84th minute. The Belgian stepped up in his usual casual manner, but Handovic saved the poorly taken spot kick.
In complete contrast to the previous meeting between this two teams, it ended 1-1, leaving Group G up for grabs. Even though Maribor were very defensive and very compact, Chelsea will feel that they could have done a lot better.
Overall, the Blues’ final ball was poor and very one dimensional, which ultimately cost them all three points.