Costa ends European drought as Chelsea thrash Maccabi

Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the match during the UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, London.

Chelsea 4 Maccabi Tel Aviv 0

Diego Costa scored his first European goal for Chelsea as they cruised to victory in their Champions League opener.

Eden Hazard missed a fifth-minute penalty, blazing over the bar, but his blushes were spared when Willian opened the scoring 10 minutes later.

And Oscar’s penalty and second-half strikes from Costa and Cesc Fabregas sealed an emphatic win.

Willian’s fortuitous opener set the Blues on their way, the Brazilian’s overhit free-kick evading Gary Cahill’s outstretched boot but still finding its way past Maccabi keeper Predrag Rajkovic.

That was to be Willian’s last meaningful contribution as he was replaced midway through the half due to injury.

His replacement Diego Costa had been left out of the starting line-up, along with captain John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Branislav Ivanovic.

But when he came on he added a physical presence to a Chelsea front-line that until then had dominated territory and possession but struggled to create scoring opportunities.

The Spain forward helped win another penalty in first-half injury time, which Oscar converted with the final kick.

Chelsea began the second half on the front foot, but survived a scare when Avarham Rikan’s volley took a couple of slight deflections and spun just past the far post.

However Costa – who had not scored in Europe since netting at Stamford Bridge for Atletico Madrid in April 2014 – ended his seven-game drought in the competition with a superb hooked volley from Cesc Fabregas’s cross.

Asmir Begovic made his one and only save against a limited Maccabi side 16 minutes from time from Dejan Radonjic’s shot, before Chelsea added a fourth from a swift counter-attack.

Hazard began the move and fed Remy, whose effort was saved but Fabregas tapped into an empty net in easily the most convincing display of the Blues’ season to date.

Chelsea: Begovic; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Cahill (c), Baba; Loftus-Cheek (Traore 76), Fabregas; Willian (Costa 22), Oscar (Ramires 64), Hazard; Remy.
Subs not used: Blackman, Terry, Ivanovic, Matic.