Substitute Victor Moses scored a dramatic stoppage-time goal as Chelsea clinched a crucial 3-2 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in a pulsating Champions League Group E encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres gave the hosts the lead in just the sixth minute courtesy of a clearance straight into his back from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, but Shakhtar were level minutes later through the imperious Willian.
Oscar restored Chelsea’s lead with a sublime long-range volley, only for Willian to again draw the visitors level with a well-worked goal, but substitute Moses was on hand to head home in the fourth minute of stoppage time to grab all three points for Roberto Di Matteo’s side.
It was only Chelsea’s second victory in six Champions League matches as they ended Shakhtar’s 37-game unbeaten run in all competitions, with the result leaving the Blues level at the top of Group E with seven points.
John Terry was confined to the bench as Di Matteo gambled Chelsea’s Champions League future on David Luiz and Gary Cahill and Ryan Bertrand replaced the injured Ashley Cole; Shakhtar, meanwhile, named the same XI that dominated Chelsea in the reverse fixture two weeks earlier.
Cahill came close to putting Chelsea in front as early as the fifth minute as Luiz drove a fierce free kick straight to Pyatov, but it dipped and bounced awkwardly with the defender almost able to turn in the rebound as the keeper threw himself to the ground to smother the loose ball.
A minute later, Chelsea had taken the lead. A woeful backpass from Oleksandr Kucher led to Pyatov clearing the ball into Torres, with the ball bouncing off the forward and into an empty net! Despite not knowing much about it, it was the Spaniard’s 18th Champions League goal, and fourth for Chelsea.
But the hosts’ lead lasted all of three minutes as Willian, reported to be a Chelsea target, equalised with a composed side-footed finish to beat captain Petr Cech after an incisive run and cut back from Luiz Adriano down the right. Shakhtar have now scored in all five of their European away games in England, and they deserved early parity.
Cech was forced to make a desperate save at his near post after an inadvertent touch from Bertrand almost saw Darijo Srna’s seemingly innocuous corner kick deflected into the net.
The best was still to come in a pulsating first half as Pyatov raced way off his line to intercept a pass from Juan Mata, but could only clear to Oscar, who showed typical poise to chest the ball down, before unleashing a stunning volley over the keeper and into the net from fully 30 yards. It was the Brazilian’s fourth goal in four Champions League matches.
Seconds later, Oscar drove a fierce shot on target from the edge of the penalty area, with Pyatov only able to tip the ball just over the crossbar, and Chelsea went into the break with a slender lead in a match of real attacking quality.
But within two minutes of the restart, Shakhtar had drawn level once more, and it was another goal of supreme quality: Willian found a crisp first-time finish from inside the box to bag his brace after fine work from Srna outwide on the right, with Chelsea’s defence carved apart once more.
Shakhtar came inches from taking the lead just before the hour mark as Rat struck the post with a fierce low shot from 25 yards out, with Cech comprehensively beaten and left flat-footed by the effort.
Mikel was convinced that he had scored Chelsea’s third goal of the night as he ghosted in at the back post to bundle the ball home from Mata’s exquisite delivery, but his celebrations were ended abruptly as the offside flag went up.
Chelsea were left incensed in the 74th minute as Hazard released Ramires, who skipped in behind Srna, before appearing to be brought down by the Shakhtar skipper, but referee Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain infuriated Di Matteo and the home fans by shaking his head.
But the hosts were celebrating jubilantly in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Moses, introduced as a 79th-minute substitute, grabbed all three points with a powerful header from Hazard’s corner as Chelsea drew level their opponents at the top of Group E ahead of their trip to face Juventus in Turin.