Football: Kiev stalemate keeps Chelsea in suspense

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard strikes.
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard strikes.AFP

KIEV (AFP) - Chelsea's Champions League last 16 hopes remain in the balance after they drew 0-0 at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday despite an improved display at the Olympic Stadium.

On a cold, misty night in the Ukrainian capital, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho saw his side hit the woodwork through the recalled Eden Hazard and Willian, but had to settle for a point.

Having lost 2-1 at Porto in their previous game, it means the misfiring Premier League champions have gone two games without victory in Group G, leaving them three points below Porto and a point behind Dynamo.

But with home games against both those sides to come, as well as a trip to Maccabi Tel Aviv, Mourinho will remain confident of progressing, particularly after witnessing a much-improved performance by his team.

Sehiy Rebrov's Dynamo will also take heart from the game, however, particularly as it followed a 3-0 loss at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, which was their first league defeat in 39 games.

Mourinho made three changes to the team that beat Aston Villa 2-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, with Hazard, Gary Cahill and Nemanja Matic replacing Pedro Rodriguez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Baba Rahman.

Hazard, last season's Player of the Season, had been upbraided by Mourinho for his lack of defensive efforts, but he was quick to make his presence felt on his return to the starting XI.

In the ninth minute, a deflected shot from Cesc Fabregas found its way to the Belgian, who shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled a shot goalwards, only for Dynamo's 40-year-old-goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy to brilliantly tip it onto the post.

Fabregas then had a penalty appeal turned down after tumbling over Serhiy Rybalka's outstretched leg inside the home penalty area.

BRAVE BEGOVIC

Pursuing their strong start, Chelsea saw Willian's left-wing free-kick narrowly elude Diego Costa, while Nemanja Matic slalomed through the Dynamo defence and poked a right-foot shot across goal and wide.

Chelsea were showing a zip and snap scarcely seen this season, but Vitaliy Buyalskiy served a reminder of the hosts' threat mid-way through the first half with a left-foot shot that flicked off John Terry and flashed narrowly wide.

The visitors continued to exert pressure early in the second period, with Willian bending a 25-yard free-kick against the bar and Fabregas driving a shot straight at Shovkovskiy.

But with each chance they did not take, so the risk of a sucker-punch loomed larger, and Dynamo began to make inroads of their own.

With Chelsea's players caught upfield, Andriy Yarmolenko released Derlis Gonzalez with a showy, no-look pass and the Paraguayan cut inside before forcing Asmir Begovic to save at his near post.

Mourinho sent Oscar on in place of Fabregas for the final 15 minutes, but Dynamo continued to threaten.

After a sloppy pass from visiting captain Terry, Denys Garmash set up fellow substitute Junior Moraes with a whipped cross from the right, but Begovic bravely threw himself at the Brazilian's feet.

Willian almost had the last word for the men in blue, but he could only curl wide from just outside the box.