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Samuel Eto’o demonstrated his enduring brilliance as a predator supreme with two goals that met Jose Mourinho’s demand to his players to show more “ambition”. Eto’s first came via a superb piece of anticipation and his second was a clinical finish. Eto’o brutal.

Chelsea now lead Group E with nine points, three clear of Schalke, and victory at Basel on Nov 26 guarantees their place in the last 16. It was not simply the win here, the masterclass from the 32-year-old Eto’o, and a composed late finish from Demba Ba, that will have delighted Mourinho.

He had been frustrated by Chelsea’s loss to Newcastle United and craved a hungrier, sharper display and his players delivered. They all worked incredibly hard, chasing the ball, closing Schalke players down, particularly Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, Oscar and Willian.

For all Chelsea’s industry, they were also indebted to Schalke’s Timo Hildebrand, for a wretched piece of goalkeeping midway through the first half, allowing Eto’o to pounce. It was a bad mistake and he was taunted by the Chelsea supporters for the rest of the game.

For the third home game in succession in front of the Shed end, Chelsea had benefited from a goalkeeping gift. Eto’o had also been involved in the controversial goal against Cardiff City when stealing the ball off David Marshall, who was bouncing it and therefore technically in control of it. The referee still allowed Eto’o’s goal.

Then came Joe Hart’s howler when Manchester City visited, presenting the winner to Fernando Torres. Now it was the turn of Timo Hildebrand, who briefly had a trial at City in 2011 when Roberto Mancini was looking for experienced cover for Hart.

The former German international thought he was making a routine kick downfield after 31 minutes. He forgot that Eto’o is the type of striker who preys on any lack of concentration by a goalkeeper. Eto’o was watching like a hawk, waiting for the moment that Hildebrand dropped the ball to the floor. The Schalke keeper stepped back and then moved forward, bringing his right foot down towards the ball.

This was something for What Happened Next aficionados. Hildebrand was staring down the pitch. Eto’o, the sultan of stealth, was already racing in from an angle, timing his run perfectly to block the kick which rebounded at speed into the empty net. Hildebrand looked to the heavens. He should have been looking around for Eto’o.

The Cameroonian smiled and laughed as he ran towards the jubilant home bench. He embraced Mourinho, getting a feel of the coach’s padded jacket, and then hugged Willian.

A quick jig of celebration and it was back on with the game. Eto’o had scored his first ever Champions League goal against Schalke, and this moment of quick thinking meant he has now scored for four separate teams after Mallorca, Barcelona and Inter Milan.

He deserved it. Eto’o had been lively even before his goal. He kept pulling wide, particularly left, looking for space between Schalke’s defenders. The goal was also the culmination of a promising period for Chelsea, who had initially been on the back-foot.

Chelsea had won 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen but were under pressure for a while. Julian Draxler, Adam Szalai and Christian Fuchs all went close early on against a much-changed Chelsea side.

Mourinho’s anger with his team’s limp performance at St James’ Park brought six changes, one of them enforced because of the injury to Torres while Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were dropped. Mourinho brought in Cesar Azpilicueta (to left-back), John Obi Mikel, Gary Cahill, Willian, André Schürrle and Eto’o.

The Cameroonian started strongly, having a shot blocked after a flowing move involving Schürrle and Willian.

Until Eto’o pounced, Chelsea’s best chance came after 19 minutes when they were awarded a free-kick for Draxler’s shirt-pull on Azpilicueta, who had nicked the ball off the highly-admired Schalke No10. Schürrle free-kick was athletically pushed away by Hildebrand. Schürrle then curled a shot just wide.

Hildebrand then suffered his moment of embarrassment. After that he was given the full “wooooo” treatment by the Chelsea fans whenever he ran in to kick the ball.

Chelsea’s keeper, Petr Cech, needed to be at his best early in the second half when saving a shot from Draxler.

But Eto’o was clearly in the mood. After 54 minutes, Willian burst through the middle and slipped the ball right to Eto’o. His first touch nudged the ball into optimum shooting position and his second drilled it right-footed past Hildebrand. As Chelsea fans celebrated and taunted Hildebrand, the noisy visitors chanted “you only sing when you’re winning’’. When Hildebrand next collected possession, the Matthew Harding Upper and Lower told him “two-nil and it’s all your fault”.

Hildebrand then had another awkward moment when a poor clearance fell to Oscar but the Brazilian was just offside as he lifted the ball back in over the keeper.

Eto’o was then taken off for Ba, departing to the inevitable and deserved standing ovation. Ba almost scored shortly after coming on but his low shot was held by Hildebrand. The Schalke fans kept singing but the life had gone out of their team.

Mourinho was removing his hard-working players. Schürrle came off for Kevin de Bruyne and then Oscar was replaced by Lampard.

The England midfielder was involved in Chelsea’s third goal. After Cahill had launched the ball long down the pitch, Ba chested it to Willian. The Brazilian found Lampard, who lifted the ball over Schalke’s defence to Ba, and he hooked the ball past Hildebrand.

At the final whistle, Cech went over to console Hildebrand, whothen headed across to the Schalke fans. Even after the final whistle, theyrefused to fall quiet but their team had fallen silent long before.

Source: Telegraph

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