Victor Moses came off the bench to rescue Chelsea, as the Nigerian’s last-gasp header ensured the Blues took away three precious points.
After a disappointing 2-1 loss in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, Chelsea really needed a win to keep their Champions League dreams alive, especially with a daunting trip to Italy to follow.
Fernando Torres got Chelsea off to the perfect start, but Willian equalised soon after. Oscar’s long-range beauty put Chelsea back in front, but once again, Willian pegged the European champions back, until Victor Moses intervened, 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
It was the type of match that neutrals crave: open, fluid styles, with both sides eager to spread the play out wide.
Comfortable with the ball, Shakhtar took control of the opening moments, and when Pyatov collected the ball after an Oscar cross was meant for Torres, it looked like the danger had passed.
But complacency allowed Chelsea to break the deadlock after just six minutes. A throw-out by the Donetsk keeper was innocuous, but when Rakitskiy panicked, the left-back slid the ball back to Pyatov. Lacking in space, the goalkeeper’s attempt to hoof the ball upfield was met by a hopeful Torres, who stuck out his leg, and the fortunate ricochet meant the ball trickled into the net. A messy goal, but 1-0 and Torres, at least, had scored.
If people thought the early goal would settle Chelsea, they were wrong. Sloppy play invited a charge down Chelsea’s left, and when Bertrand slipped trying to make up ground, the ball found it’s way to Willian.
The former Chelsea target got enough behind the ball, to peg the Blues back, but it was a weak shot which Petr Cech really ought to have covered.
The Ukrainian attacks kept coming. Sensing opportunity down their right, attack followed attack. Mkhitaryan shot wide after a weaving Shakhtar interplay, and it was easy to see why the Ukrainian champions have not lost in 37 competitive matches.
Torres was a man who had a thing or two to prove, and he could have doubled his tally for the evening, had his intricate step-over been mirrored in a feeble shot, that hit the side-netting.
If both goals had thus far been goalkeeping blunders, this was no different, expect a sprinkling of Brazilian magic. Pyatov raced off his line to meet a Mata cross, but of all places to head, it is not to Oscar.
The wonderkid controlled expertly on his chest, before unleashing a 40-yard drive which swerved into the net; a shot which required excellent technique, done so effortlessly by the new Chelsea No. 11.
If they say the best place to score is before half-time, then surely the worst to concede at is just after the interval.
Chelsea were caught napping, as Willian got his second of the evening, poking home after another wonderful bit of Shakhtar play.
And Shakhtar could have taken the lead for the first time in the match soon after, with Rat hitting the post with a delicious volley.
The visitors then sat back, as the home crowd got ever more frustrated. Mikel had done his part in protecting the defence, and did have the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag denied him his moment.
Never has a Champions League holder been eliminated at the earliest possible stage. Would Chelsea break that record? On came Moses, on came Sturridge. There was a feeling of desperation.
Then, in the 93rd minute, Chelsea won a corner. Would there be a last twist? Who would score it: Cahill? Ivanovic? Victor Moses.