• Chelsea could secure last 16 Champions League spot at Maccabi Tel-Aviv
  • Blues need to win with Dynamo Kiev failing to do likewise in Porto 
  • Barcelona are also in action when they host Roma at the Nou Camp
  • Six UEFA Champions League ties kick off at 7.45pm GMT
  • Click here to follow LIVE coverage of Arsenal vs Dinamo Zagreb

Richard Arrowsmith for MailOnline

Follow Sportsmail’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League as Chelsea travel to Maccabi Tel-Aviv with a chance of progressing to the last 16 in their penultimate group game.

The Blues take on the group’s rock bottom side – who have previously lost all four games – knowing if they win and Dynamo Kiev fail to win in Porto it will be the Premier League champions progressing from the group stage.

Barcelona will also be in action as they look to qualify for the last 16 when they host Roma. Luis Enrique’s side only need a draw to progress on a night where there are six 7.45pm kick-offs in the Champions League.

  • Richard Arrowsmith

    Host commentator

67 mins: Hazard pays the price for annoying Mourinho earlier and is hauled off, despite showing some flashes that earned him those player of the year awards last season.

He is replaced by serial Champions League winner Pedro.

Medical staff are called on with Terry struggling with what appears to be a back injury and the skipper is eventually taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Zouma. 

61 mins: Hazard forced a sensational save from Rajković during a flurry of activity around Maccabi’s area.

But, Chelsea are almost undone on the break immediately afterwards when a long ball finds Zahavi and it takes an even more impressive save from Begovic to deny the hosts an equaliser.

Meanwhile, Dynamo Kiev have gone 2-0 up against Porto, meaning the group is likely to be decided in the final game.

Lionel Messi has added his second goal of the evening following his comeback from almost two months out with an injury.

Barcelona, who secured qualification before the game, will end the evening as group winners – with a brace from Suarez and Pique also on the scoresheet.

53 mins: New signing Baba, who has come under scrutiny this season, almost finds Hazard with a low cross from the goal line but it is cut out by the Maccabi defence – who are not playing as if they have a deficit at the moment.

49 mins: Mourinho is now fuming with Hazard after the playmaker ignores his defensive responsibilities to allow Alberman to play a perfect through ball to Dasa whose shot is denied by the incoming Begovic.

The Belgian’s ears will still be ringing, especially after he refuses to go down after contact in the box at the opposite end.

Mourinho is not best pleased with some of his players

46 mins: Costa has survived his row with the manager and starts the second half.

Chelsea have been guilty of not being able to finish off teams this season and, while they had over 70% of possession, they only managed two attempts on target – one of which was Cahill’s goal!

They will be hoping to improve those statistics against 10-men in the second half.

From Sportsmail’s Sam Cunningham at the Sammy Ofer Stadium

‘It is late November and Maccabi Tel-Aviv fans are returning to their seats with ice creams.’

Barcelona 3-0 Roma

Arsenal 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Bayern Munich 3-0 Olympiakos

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-1 Chelsea

BATE 1-1 1 Bayer Leverkusen

FC Porto 0-1 Dynamo Kiev

Zenit St P 2 – 0 Valencia

Lyon1 1- 1 Gent

Mesut Ozil celebrates opening the scoring for Arsenal against Dinamo Zagreb

From Sportsmail’s Matt Barlow at the Sammy Ofer Stadium

‘There was a big row before half-time between Costa and Mourinho.

‘Mourinho went nuts on the touchline when Costa failed to push on and a Hazard cross dropped to no-one.

‘Costa reacted badly and had a go back, clearly fuming.

‘The half-time whistle went and Mourinho stormed down the tunnel.

‘Costa marched off, still fuming.

‘Oscar tried to placate him, but Costa shrugged him off and headed down the tunnel.

‘And now Remy is warming up….’

Costa may not be seen in the second half after a touchline row with the boss

HT: A lofted pass from Fabregas almost allows Hazard to double the Blues’ lead on the stroke of half time but  the Belgian cannot stretch far enough to make proper contact.

Despite the terrible state of the pitch, the visitors have controlled possession from the first minute.

There has been some impressive creative work in and around the area from the Blues’ forwards but it was Cahill who opened the scoring with a close range finish after his header had been tipped onto the post.

With former Stamford Bridge defender Ben Haim losing his composure by lashing out at Costa to earn a red card, we can expect more goals in the second half.

Former Blues defender Ben Haim is given his marching orders after kicking out at Costa

40 mins: Chelsea’s job has just been made easier by a moment of madness from their former defender Ben Haim.

The Maccabi centre-half was involved in a battle with, who else? Costa and appeared to be caught in the face before lashing out wildly with a kick.

The expression on his face exposed that he immediately knew he had made a decisive mistake and there was little argument before he trudged off.

35 mins: Willian has made himself Chelsea’s free-kick taker in chief this season and the Brazilian whips in another inviting cross from a set piece that is punched to safety by Rajković.

Meanwhile, Yarmolenko has scored a penalty to hand Dynmo Kiev the lead over Porto – not the result that Chelsea are looking for.

30 mins: Costa attempts an acrobatic overhead following good work from Willian on the right flank, but his effort is off target.

Chelsea’s front four of Costa, Hazard, Oscar and Willian are starting to find their rhythm with some intricate passing around the box highlighting the chasm in quality between the two sides.

Cahill wheels away to celebrate opening the scoring for Chelsea

25 mins: Fabregas plays a beautiful crossfield pass that splits Maccabi’s midfield and defence but the Brazilian loiters too long on the ball and the break comes to nothing.

Hazard appears to have switched position with Oscar and moved to a more central role.

‘As Chelsea celebrated the goal, Mourinho went onto the pitch to stamp down a few divots. Making his point.’

Mourinho is understandably not pleased with the pitch

19 mins: Chelsea defender Cahill, who has appeared in all of his side’s Champions League fixtures this season, opens the scoring at the second time of asking.

The England international rose highest to head goalwards from a corner but his first effort was saved by the host’s highly rated young keeper who turns it onto the post – fortunately, Cahill shows some poaching instinct and follows in to prod the ball home.

17 mins: Oscar appears in pain after hitting the ground following the challenge but when Maccabi midfielder Rikan considers putting the ball out of play he is ordered to continue by his manager.

Meanwhile , Fabregas adds his name to the shots off target statistics with an optimistic drive from distance.

12 mins: Chelsea, who have made their furthest ever Champions League trip, have started to dominate possession as expected with most of the action taking place in the hosts’s half.

Maccabi seem content to let the BLues pressure in the hope of hitting them on the break, although their first opportunity to do so is wasted by a misplaced pass.

Oscar has been given the No 10 role in preference to Hazard

6 mins: Oscar has been given the No 10 role cherished by Hazard and has been taking up some dangerous positions already.

The Brazilian provided a sublime backheel to set up Azpilicueta whose curling shot drifted wide of the left post.

‘John Terry has overtaken David Beckham as the Englishman with the fourth-most Champions League appearances.

‘He moves alongside Ashley Cole on 108. Gary Neville made 109 while Paul Scholes made 124.’

From Sportsmail’s Matt Barlow at the Sammy Ofer Stadium

‘Fabulous noise at kick-off from the Maccabi fans. And a banner which read: “Europe wake up, Zionism is not a crime”.’

0 mins: The game in front of a vociferous home crowd – despite it being played away from Maccabi’s home stadium, which only has a capacity of 15,000 – has kicked off.

Fears over the state of the pitch appear founded with some scrappy passing between both sides during the opening stages.

Chelsea are given an early warning after Peretz is afforded a free header in the box but his effort sails over the crossbar.

Before even kicking a ball in their clash with Roma tonight, reigning champions Barcelona have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League courtesy of a 1-1 draw between BATE and Bayer Leverkusen earlier this evening.

A draw against the Italian side will seal their place as group winners – avoiding Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Co is another reason for Chelsea to finish strongly.

It will be interesting to see whether Hazard retains his central playmaking role after returning to close to his best against Norwich at the weekend, although the manager has doubts about using him at No 10.

Mourinho said: ‘I think his best position is the position where last season he was the player of the season.

‘There he can attack defenders more in an individual way. When he gets the ball it’s more about him attacking the right back and the right back is always in trouble against a player who has his best quality in a one-against-one.

‘When he plays at No 10 he gets into areas where sometimes he is surrounded by teams with two or three players in the same zone.

CLICK HERE to read the full story

Mourinho still has doubts over playing Hazard at No 10

‘Modern football, eh? Ten members of backroom staff are out on the pitch to help warm-up the 18 Chelsea players.’

Chelsea’s players are put through their paces in front of an entourage of staff

‘The Maccabi Tel-Aviv players have got the yoga mats out for their warm-up.

‘A large contingent of their fans gave the officials a huge round of boos and whistles when they ran out of the tunnel to jog around the pitch to loosen up ahead of kick off.

‘The pitch here in Haifa is terrible. There is mud in one goalmouth and the other is full of sand. The rest of the pitch is cut up and rough. It will not make Chelsea’s night any easier.’

A group of Israeli Chelsea fans make themselves known ahead of the game

‘The quality of the pitch inside does not appear to match the rest of the very impressive Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa. It looks lumpy with bare patches. It doesn’t appear like the sort of surface for slick passing. So perhaps it will suit Chelsea.

Mourinho told BT Sport: ‘THe pitch is really bad’.

‘Chelsea make four changes from the team against Norwich on Saturday: three of the back-four (only Terry remains) and Oscar is in for Pedro.

‘The goalkeepers are out warming up and the home fans are starting to make some noise. A good atmosphere building, 40 minutes to KO.’                     

The condition of the pitch does not match the facilities at the Sammy Ofer stadium

MACCABI TEL-AVIV: Rajković; Dasa, Ben Haim, Carlos García, Ben Harush; Alberman, Zahavi, Rikan, Igiebor; Peretz, Ben Chaim 

SUBS: Lifshitz, Ben Basat, Itzhaki, Azulay, Tibi, Mitrovic, Vermouth 

The Israel side are coached by former Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic – while former Blues defender Tal Ben Haim makes the starting line-up tonight.

Star player Eran Zahavi, who scored his 100th league goal at the weekend to send Maccabi to the top of the table, will provide the hosts most dangerous attacking threat. 

Eran Zahavi (centre) scored his 100th league goal at the weekend and will be Maccabi’s main threat

CHELSEA: Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (c), Rahman; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa

SUBS: Blackman, Ivanovic, Zouma, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Remy

There have been no withdrawals from the squad over recent security fears due to the conflict in Gaza, where rockets were launched towards Haifa, 75 miles from where the game will be played.

It’s a point that Mourinho used to remind former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux, who id not travel in 2001, after his criticism of the manger over the Eva Carneiro affair.

The only players missing from Mourinho’s squad are injured striker Radamel Falcao, although his absence will unlikely be missed, and Thibaut Courtois,  – who is expected to return by ‘mid-December’.

Roman Abramovich will be hoping his side can progress further than the next round this season, especially after announcing a £23million loss – with the drop in turnover blamed on their last 16 loss to PSG last term.

Chelsea strips are laid out in the away dressing room ahead of the players’ arrival

While edging to a 1-0 victory over Norwich would not usually be cause for celebration, there were signs that Chelsea’s confidence is returning after the weekend’s league game.

Troubled players including Nemaja Matic and Cesc Fabregas performed well while there was also a notable improvement from Eden Hazard playing in his preferred No 10 role.

Mourinho will be keen to rescue a potentially disastrous season in a competition that he knows from personal experience is not always won by the best team. 

“We have obviously put ourselves in a very difficult position in the Premier League, where the distance is not to one team, it is to two, three, four teams,” Mourinho said here yesterday.

“It’s very, very difficult. The Champions League, for us, is a competition where we’re not doing bad like we are in the Premier League. We are doing normal.”

“We know the Champions League, we know the favourites,” Mourinho said. “I know, and Chelsea know, that sometimes you win when you are not the favourites.

“When I won it twice with Porto [2004] and Inter [2010] we were far from favourites. We were not even top 10 favourites. When Chelsea won [in 2012], it was a very bad season they had, and they won it. So we know the Champions League has these big doses of unpredictability.”

Diego Costa scored as Chelsea earned a confidence boosting win against Norwich at the weekend

Good evening and welcome to Sportsmail’s LIVE coverage of tonight’s Champions League clash between Chelsea and Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel.

Chelsea’s abysmal Premier League title defence has been well documented, but Jose Mourinho’s side could seal qualification in Europe’s elite competition with one game to spare – provided they beat Maccabi and Dynamo Kiev lose to Porto tonight.

Despite their domestic troubles, the Blues are overwhelming favourites against the only team yet to win a point in the competition – while they can take confidence from their 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has warned his side will be ‘in trouble’ if they do not win tonight but, despite winning only two of their last 10 Champions League away games, it would be the greatest shock of their already surprising season should they not leave with all three points.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho arrives at the Sammy Ofer Stadium



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