Juventus dominated Chelsea in Turin with Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco in a 3-0 Champions League triumph.
Elsewhere, Nordsjaelland had twice gone in front against Shakhtar Donetsk, but eventually capitulated 5-2. It means the Ukrainians are qualified for the knock-outs and Juve are in second place.
This was a must-win game for the Bianconeri if they wanted Champions League qualification to remain in their hands. They were third in Group E, but only one point behind joint leaders Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea.
Mirko Vucinic recovered from a bout of flu to start alongside Fabio Quagliarella, while Andrea Pirlo returned after he missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Lazio due to a ban. Chelsea completely reshuffled after a dismal Premier League run, dropping Fernando Torres for a 4-2-3-1 system with Eden Hazard a ‘False 9,’ while Ashley Cole, Oscar, Ramires, Juan Mata and Branislav Ivanovic shook off injuries. Frank Lampard and John Terry were still sidelined.
Juve poured forward immediately and after three minutes Stephan Lichtsteiner volleyed a Vucinic chipped pass to the back post, but Petr Cech managed to deflect it on to the upright from point-blank range with his legs.
Chelsea were sitting back and trying to hit only on the counter, which they almost did with Giorgio Chiellini’s intercepted pass. Oscar threaded through to send Hazard clear, but Gigi Buffon managed to turn it on to the side-netting.
Cech came to the rescue again when a corner found Claudio Marchisio’s strike palmed out for another set play. Quagliarella passed two angled drives straight into the goalkeeper’s arms, as did Vucinic and a Pirlo free kick that went through the wall.
Gary Cahill needed a crucial interception in the six-yard box to stop Lichtsteiner’s pull-back after a wonderful passing move. At the other end, Oscar almost made the most of another counter-attack, but Leonardo Bonucci came sliding in to block his shot.
Juventus did eventually break the deadlock on 38 minutes with a sneaky finish. Pirlo won back possession in midfield unleashed a long-range snapshot that Quagliarella redirected with his toe to completely wrong-foot Cech in goal.
It was so nearly 2-0 moments later, but a desperate goalline clearance from Ashley Cole denied Lichtsteiner at the back post from a Kwadwo Asamoah cross.
The move continued and at the other end Juan Mata was totally unmarked, but Buffon stood his ground and blocked the volley.
Vucinic had penalty appeals after the restart when he ran on to a long ball and fell under a shirt-tug from Cahill, though the referee did not consider it enough to knock him over. It was certainly a yank on the shoulder and unbalanced him, but at the same time the striker did not particularly try to stay on his feet either.
Quagliarella managed to turn by leaning into Cahill, but Cech smothered at the near post when he should’ve rolled back for Lichtsteiner. A Pirlo screamer was fingertipped round the post by the Chelsea goalkeeper.
On 59 minutes Quagliarella sprung the offside trap, but Cech stuck to him to narrow the angle and prevent the finish from the by-line. From that corner, Bonucci nodded over the bar.
Arturo Vidal surged forward and exchanged passes with Vucinic, but the Montenegrin went for goal rather than giving it back and had to apologise to his angry teammate.
Less than a minute later Vidal got his chance and took it, as Asamoah burst down the left and pulled back for the on-rushing Chilean to fire a daisy-cutter that took a deflection off Ramires to nutmeg Cech. Asamoah was sent clear just moments after Cesar Azpilicueta, who had been marking him, was substituted.
Lichtsteiner had cramp and made way for Martin Caceres and he immediately had an angled drive charged down in the box. Vucinic then dived on to a cross, but just failed to make contact with his head.
Torres was thrown on too and Asamoah mis-kicked wide from a promising position. Vucinic wasted a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 when Caceres rolled across from the right and he ballooned over the bar unmarked.
A substitution was changed at the last second, as Sebastian Giovinco was coming on for Quagliarella, but Vucinic – who was suffering from flu last week – begged to be replaced instead. Oscar should’ve done better when faced with a hole in the Bianconeri defence, but lost his footing at the crucial moment.
Marchisio was booked and will be suspended for the final group trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Substitute Giovinco has been criticised by the fans recently, so expelled all his anger when scoring the third goal. The Atomic Ant struck on the counter and drew out Cech to toe-poke it past him into an empty net from 20 yards.
In stoppages Giorgio Chiellini felt a thigh twinge and limped off after all the substitutions had been completed.
Juventus 3-0 Chelsea
Scorers: Quagliarella 38 (J), Vidal 61 (J), Giovinco 90 (J)
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Caceres 68), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Quagliarella (Pogba 89), Vucinic (Giovinco 82)
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, A Cole; Ramires, Mikel (Torres 71); Juan Mata, Oscar, Azpilicueta (Moses 60); Hazard
Ref: Cakir (TUR)