Chelsea struck the woodwork twice but could not find a breakthrough in an entertaining 0-0 Champions League draw at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday that left everything to play for in Group G.
Within the context of Premier League champions Chelsea’s poor start to the season, a goalless draw in the Ukraine can be considered a positive result and Jose Mourinho’s side certainly did enough to earn all three points.
Eden Hazard, restored to the starting lineup, struck the post early on while Willian crashed a free kick against the underside of the bar after the restart as the visitors crafted by far the better openings.
Kiev, who tested Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic on occasions in the second half, have five points in Group G, one ahead of Mourinho’s side and two behind leaders Porto who beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0.
Having won only three of their opening nine Premier League matches, Chelsea boss Mourinho saw some green shoots of recovery in Kiev.
“I see progress,” he told BT Sport. “We hit the post twice and had a good solid defensive performance against a dangerous team. To lose this game would have been bad for us.”
Hazard, who returned after being dumped to the bench for Saturday’s victory over Aston Villa, was at the heart of a lot of the most promising early attacks.
The Belgium playmaker, who had received a dressing down from Mourinho for his poor early-season form, came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half with a curling effort having cut menacingly into the Dynamo box.
Cesc Fabregas, another whose form in the early part of the campaign has fallen short of last season’s standards, should have won his side a penalty when he was tripped by Serhiy Rybalka but referee Damir Skomina waved play on.
While Kiev wideman Andriy Yarmolenko offered a threat on the right flank, it was Chelsea who created the better early chances with Willian bending a free kick fractionally past the post and Nemanja Matic poking a shot wide after a powerful run.
Willian then thundered a free kick against the bar within two minutes of the restart as Chelsea piled forward but the hosts stood firm, thwarted their best efforts and twice forced Begovic into action at the other end.
Chelsea retreated in the closing stages, happy to soak up Kiev’s attacks and settle for a draw before the two sides face each other again at Stamford Bridge on Nov. 4.