Last word tonight goes to our own Amy Lawrence
Juve win Group E, outstanding effort. Conte will be back in charge for knock-out stage, possibly with attacking reinforcements. #forte— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) December 5, 2012
Thought for the day. With Chelsea consigned to the ignominy of Thursday nights on Channel Five or - even worse - ITV 4, I'm sure we all feel very sorry for their owner Roman Abramovich, who has finally got the free-flowing goal-speckled football he's been craving, only for it to prove a complete and utter waste of time.
In other news, rather than do a Google Image search for the bloke who plays Patrick Jane in The Mentalist to see what the hair of Nordsjaelland substitute Henrik Kildentoft looks like, you might be better advised to do a Google Image search for Henrik Kildentoft. Alternatively, if you're just looking for a report on tonight's match from somebody who was at it, you could do a lot worse than click on this link.
Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over - Rafa Benitez has bagged his first win as Chelsea manager and it could hardly have been more emphatic, but the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge remains surreal and subdued.
A win for Juventus in Donetsk means the Italian champions go into the last 16 as group winners, with Shakhtar also advancing in second place. Chelsea suffer the indignity of being the first defending champions in the history of the competition to be eliminated in the group stages.
90+1 min: Another ball over the top for Torres to chase and the Spaniard beats the offside trap to get on the end of it. Rather than take the ball around the keeper and slot it into an empty net, he tries to lift it over Hansen. His effort lacks conviction, making it easy for the Nordsjaelland goalkeeper to intercept.
88 min: David Luiz gets booked for a foul on Issah, which means he'll be ruled out of Chelsea's next European match, which will almost certainly be staged on a Thursday night and broadcast on Channel 5 or ITV 4.
87 min: By my count, the yellow card issued to Mtiliga for the foul on Eden Hazard was his second of the game, so either the referee is unaware he was already on a yellow, or whoever is in charge of the TV graphics mistook the identity of the Nordsjaelland player that was booked earlier.
85 min: David Luiz tries his luck with the free-kick and his effort isn't too bad at all. He sends the ball fizzing over the wall and inches over the cross-bar. Meanwhile in the stands, the supporters are leaving in their droves despite their team's 6-1 lead. Maybe they're going home to plot their Europa League itineraries.
84 min: Eden Hazard has his legs hooked from under him by Patrick Mtiliga as he tried to skip past a couple of Nordsjaelland defenders just outside the penalty area. Free-kick for Chelsea in a very scorable position.
82 min: "How close are Chelsea to just needing Juventus to draw in order to go above them on goal difference?" asks Oliver, showing the kind of indepth knowledge of the rules of the Champions League that I've come to expect from my readers. Not close at all, is the answer to your question, Oliver, as this jamboree isn't decided on goal difference, but on head-to-heads between teams tied on points.
81 min: From the byline, Torres pulls the ball back to Oscar, who drills a surface-to-air screamer straight at Hansen form close range. The goalkeeper puts the ball over the bar for a corner with a one-handed save.
79 min: Torres knocks the ball a little too far ahead of himself and goes down in the Nordsjaelland penalty area under a "challenge" from Issah. He chances his arm and appeals for a penalty but none is forthcoming.
75 min: Branislav Ivanovic heads a foot or so over the bar.
74 min: Chelsea substitution: Paulo Ferreira, who I can confirm is still alive, replaces Juan Mata, who is clearly being rested for Chelsea's embarrassing defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light next Saturday.
74 min: Meanwhile in Donetsk, Juventus continue to lead 1-0/ Chelsea can score another six goals, but they'll still exit the tournament unless Shakhtar beat their Italian visitors.
GOAL! Chelsea 6-1 Nordsjaelland (Oscar 71) Nicolai Stokholm, the defensive midfielder who's been repeatedly found out since being moved back to centre-half early in the first half, gifts Chelsea another goal to make it a round half-dozen. Caught in possession as as he tried to walk the ball out of defence, he was forced to look on in horror as the ball was played into the him-shaped hole at the back, where Oscar picked it up and rifled it low and hard past Jesper Hansen into the bottom right-hand corner.
69 min: Eden Hazard tries to play in Torres, but there's too much weight on his pass and the ball trundles wide.
67 min: In the Nordsjaelland goal, Jesper Hansen thwarts Fernando Torres's attempts to score bag hat-trick, blocking the Chelsea striker's side-footed effort from a tight angle. The goalkeeper's had a torrid time of it tonight, having been repeatedly left exposed by a makeshift back four who are doing their best under very trying circumstances.
65 min: Chelsea substitution: Ramires off, Oscar on. Nordsjaelland substitution: Ticnovic off, Issah on.
GOAL! Chelsea 5-1 Nordsjaelland (Mata 63) Chelsea pile on the hurt, with Mata advancing on the Nordsjaelland penalty area, passing wide to Hazard, picking up the return pass and unleashing a low goalwards drive. In the Nordsjaelland goal, Hansen manages to parry the shot, but the ball breaks kindly for Mata, who slots it home with his second attempt.
60 min: Chelsea substitution: Ashley Cole off, Ryan Bertrand off. Norsjaelland substitution: Anders Christiansen off, Henrik Kildentoft on. I can't tell you much about Mr Kildentoft, but he has amazing hair - the sun kissed strawberry blonde locks of an American lunchtime soap actor. Google image the bloke who plays the lead role in The Mentalist and you'll have some idea what I'm talking about.
58 min: "Surely a more apt analogy for the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge would be the sense of foreboding you get at Wetherspoons, between about 7 and 8pm on a Friday night," writes Brad McMillan, a man who isn't ashamed to admit he spends his Friday nights in a Wetherspoons. "There's no music, people are chatting, but you know it's going to kick off later."
GOAL! Chelsea 4-1 Nordsjaelland (Torres 56) Great work from Eden Hazard, who slaloms his way to the byline down the inside left and pulls the ball back into the centre. Under pressure from Kasper Lorentzen, Fernando Torres manages to prod the ball high into the roof of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
54 min: A corner for Chelsea, which is taklen short. Juan Mata advances towards the corner of the penalty area and sends a cross fizzing towards the far post, but his effort is off-target and then cleared. Meanwhile in Donetsk, Juventus have gone a goal up against Shakhtar, which is terrible news for Chelsea.
GOAL! Chelsea 3-1 Nordsjaelland (Cahill 51) That is a quite splendid headed goal from Gary Cahill. From the free-kick awarded for Mtiliga's foul on Moses, Juan Mata curled an outswinger across the corridor between the edge of the Nordsjaelland penalty area that of the six-yard box. Cahill rose highest and sent a looping header into the top right-hand corner, leaving Jesper Hansen with no chance.
50 min: Patrick Mtiliga gets booked for getting a bit too up close and personal with Victor Moses. Free-kick for Chelsea, wide on the right.
48 min: If Chelsea's fans were upset by that Norsjaelland goal, they're hiding it well. Like I said at half-time, the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge just seems weird, as if the crowd have all come to watch something else that isn't scheduled to begin until this annoying football match is over.
GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Nordsjaelland (John 46) Wow! Joshua John shows remarkable compusure to get on the end of a route-one hoof from midfield after leaving Branislav Ivanovic in his dust. From a tight angle, he steers the ball past Cech with his first touch of the second half.
46 min: Nordsjaelland get the ball rolling for the second half.
Michael Cox's assessment of events in Donetsk ...
Will it end in a draw? I think so. The first half was contested "honestly" but surely they'll shut down after about an hour...— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) December 5, 2012
The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge: It seems decidedly weird this evening, writes minute-by-minute reporter from Kings Cross bunker. The crowd aren't hostile, but don't seem particularly pleased or enthused either. It all seems very flat, with the general hubbub of conversation you might hear before the lights go down in the cinema or theatre occasionally being interrupted by the reaction to goals being scored or penalties being awarded.
Half-time: After an eventful 45 minutes boasting three penalties and a long overdue goal from Fernando Torres, Chelsea's players go in for their half-time mug of scald with a two-goal cushion over their vastly inferior opponents. In Donetsk, it's also half-time, where you'll be astonished to learn that the score between Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus remains deadlocked at 0-0. As things stand, Chelsea are going out.
45+1 min: We're given a glimpse of the Torres of old as he beats his marker, Michael Parkhurst, for pace to latch on to a marvellous Victor Moses through-ball down the inside right and fire towards the far post. Goalkeeper Hansen rushed off his line to block Torres's first attempt, but the ball rebounded straight to the Spaniard who subsequently steered it inside the far post with a right-footed effort.
GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Norsjaelland (Torres 45) He's only gone and scored, you know!
42 min: Tonight's referee, Bas Nijhuis from the Netherlands, took an eternity to award the first two penalties, only blowing his whistle and pointing to the spot after the kind of lengthy pauses you'd expect from a cricket umpire mulling over a tight LBW decision. It's a state of affairs that suggests he was acting on the advice of his advisers behind the goals.
The first decision seemed dubious, as Gary Cahill may not even have been inside the penalty area when he handled the ball. The second was fair, as it was a definite hand-ball by Mtiliga, who controlled the ball against his hip with his arm. The third was, in my opinion, the most harsh of all and the one which Mr Nijhuis took the least amount of time to consider.
GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Nordsjaelland (Luiz 38) David Luiz volunteers for this one, takes a long run-up and hammers the ball high and to the right, as Jesper Hansen dives the wrong way. Chelsea lead at Stamford Bridge, but it's scoreless at the Donbass Arena, where they need Shakhtar Donetsk to win.
37 min: Another penalty! Chelsea get a spot-kick they don't deserve when a shot welted towards Patrick Mtiliga from close range hits the defender's arm, which was by his side. That is incredibly harsh.
36 min: Now Chelsea miss a penalty! As the ball pinged around the Nordsjaelland penalty area after being sent in in from the corner, the substitute Mikkel Beckmann clearly controlled it with his arm as he tried to block a powerful header from Gary Cahill. A huge shout went up and the referee eventually blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Eden Hazard took the penalty, but his effort was fairly feeble - Jesper Hansen went low and to his left to save at his leisure.
34 min: With the ball on his toe just inside the D on the edge of the Nordsjaelland penalty area, Fernando Torres tries to poke the ball goalwards only to see his effort deflected wide for a corner.
32 min: Nordsjaelland miss a penalty! Petr Cech dives low to his right to save from Nicolai Stokholm after the Danish champions were awarded a spot-kick for a Gary Cahill hand-ball on the edge of his own penalty area.
29 min: Kasper Lorentzen and Joshua John fire off shots for Nordsjaelland. The former's effort is off target, while the latter brings a save out of Petr Cech.
28 min: Nordsjaelland's stand-in centre-back Stokholm goes perilously close to hacking the ball into his own net from six yards out, hoofing a pull-back from Victor Moses inches over his own crossbar.
27 min: Chelsea continue to turn the screw, but their No9 continues to disappoint. After Victor Moses is dispossessed in the wake of a gallop down the right wing, the ball breaks to Torres, who continues where his team-mate had left off only to get the ball caught under his feet and end up lying flat on his face in the penalty area appealing half-heartedly for a penalty.
25 min: David Luiz pings an inch-perfect pass over the Nordsjaelland defence into Torres's airspace. The striker attempts to steer the ball goalwards with an overhead kick, but once again, his shadow Stokholm is on hand to put him off and the shot is fluffed.
21 min: Oriel Romeu and Juan Mata combine on the edge of the penalty area to split the Nordsjaelland defence with a through-ball for Fernando Torres to chase. Despite the Spanish striker's best attempts to stretch and poke it goalwards, Nordsjaelland midfielder Niicolai Stokholm does enough to put him off and the ball runs through to goalkeeper Hansen.
21 min: Ramires plays a marvellous diagonal pass from the centre out wide towards Victor Moses on the right flank, but the Chelsea forward is flagged for offside. Indeed, such is the linesman's certainty that Moses was offside that he falls over in his eagerness to wave his flag.
16 min: Nordsjaelland substitution: Mikkel Beckmann has replaced the stricken Ivan Runje. He came on a few minutes ago and has had Nordsjaelland's only shot in anger thus far, but I haven't had a chance to bring you up to speed before now.
13 min: Eden Hazard gallops down the left-flank, cuts inside and tries a shot on goal from a tight angle. His effort is deflected out for a corner, which Hazard takes. Nordsjaelland clear.
10 min: Hansen saves his side's (Danish) bacon again, twice in quick succession, first tipping an Eden Hazard shot around the post, then getting down well to block a David Luiz drive from close range from the ensuing corner.
9 min: Ashley Cole sends in a cross from the left and Victor Moses demonstrates excellent technique to keep his volley from 14 yards down and bring a good save out of goalkeeper Jesper Hansen, who dives low to his near post.
5 min: There's a lengthy break in play as the stretcher-bearers run on to the field to tend to Ivan Runje, Nordsjaelland's 21-year-old Croatian centre-back, who is lying on the ground with what looks like a match-ending injury. I\'m not sure what's up with him, as he went down when there was no obvious contact or collision with anyone else. He's carried off the pitch and the 10 men of Nordsjaelland resume with a throw-in while their substitute strips off his tracksuit.
3 min: Ramires flattens Nordsjaelland right-back Mario Ticnovic in an aeriel challenge on the edge of the Danish side's penalty area. He escapes a booking, but Nordsjaelland win a free-kick that enables them to clear their lines in the wake of sustained early Chelsea pressure.
1 min: Chelsea kick off, playing from right to left in a decidedly subdued Stamford Bridge. In the opening two minutes, they win two corners in quick succession, from which nothing comes.
Not long now ...
The teams are in the tunnel, making their way out on to the Stamford Bridge sward. Chelsea's players wear their customary blue shirts, blue shorts and white socks, while Nordsjaelland's wear red shirts with white trim, red shorts and red socks. Rafa Benitez follows his players out and takes his place in the dug-out, where he is greeted by a phalanx of photographers waiting to take his picture as he ignores the half-hearted boos his own club's fans.
Shakhtar's match against Juventus ...
I will, of course, bring you regular updates from Donetsk. I must confess that I don't concur with the sages in the Stamford Bridge press box, as a draw between Shakhtar and Juventus will be enough to send both teams through to the last 16, with the hosts proceeding as Group winners.
Now, call me a cynic, but if an Italian club whose name is a byword for corruption and a team owned by a shady Ukrainian oligarch can't engineer a draw between them, my complete lack of faith in humanity will need a major overhaul.
An email from Ryan Dunne ...
"Wasn't the received opinion that everyone rotates, but Rafa, like Ranieri, did so badly?" he asks. "I'm not sure if that view stands up to scrutiny though. The Mourinho programme the other night reminded me that Rafa invariably outfoxed the 'greatest manager of our time', Mourinho."
This from Paul Hayward, formerly of this parish
Plenty of good judges here at Bridge think Shakhtar will beat Juve and put Chelsea through. Shoulder-ride and champagne shower for Benitez.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) December 5, 2012
Zonal Marking's Michael Cox has a question ...
Why does Benitez get so much criticism for rotating his squad - a fairly standard concept these days? I've never understood it— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) December 5, 2012
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Branislav Ivanovic, 4-David Luiz, 24-Gary Cahill, 3-Ashley Cole; 6-Oriol Romeu, 7-Ramires; 17-Eden Hazard, 10-Juan Mata, 13-Victor Moses; 9-Fernando Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Oscar, Mikel, Ferreira, Marin, Azpilicueta, Bertrand.
Nordsjaelland: 1-Jesper Hansen, 23-Mario Ticinovic, 18-Michael Parkhurst, 21-Ivan Runje, 8-Patrick Mtiliga; 6-Enoch Adu, 7-Nicolai Stokholm, 5-Anders Christiansen; 19-Mark Gundelach, 15-Joshua John; 20-Kasper Lorentzen.
Subs: Jensen, Kildentoft, Beckmann, Laudrup, Issah, Lindberg, Maxso.
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Holland)
Team news ...
Rafael Benitez-out recalls David Luiz and Oriol Romeu for tonighyt's match at Stamford Bridge, with the former returning from suspension and the latter coming in for John Obi Mikel, who has just signed a new five-year contract with Chelsea.
Nordsjaelland recall left-back Patrick Mtiliga and forward Kasper Lorentzen as they aim to exact revenge on opponents who thrashed them back in the days before everything started going pear-shaped at Stamford Bridge.
A bit about Nordsjaelland ...
Don't know anything about Chelsea's opponents? Too embarrassed to ask? Fear not, for here's an informative feature on the Danish champions that was written by Mr Fifield in the build-up to Chelsea's visit to the Parken Stadium, where they won 4-0 at the beginning of October. If you fancy Nordsjaelland's chances of causing an upset this evening, against opposition who are in something approaching disarray, they are available to back at tempting odds of 35-1 on a well known betting exchange.
Good evening everybody and welcome to tonight's minute-by-minute coverage of Chelsea's record-breaking attempt to become the first defending champions in history to exit the Champions League at the group stages.
In their last outing in this tournament, a 3-0 reverse at the hands of Juventus in Turin that resulted in the sacking of fans favourite Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benitez was just an enthusiastic tactics blogger working the international lecture circuit and a small part of him must be pining for those languid, stress-free days as he once again prepares to face the abuse of thousands of Stamford Bridge regulars who seem too scared to target the man who actually sacked Di Matteo and are therefore picking on an easier target for the most spurious of historical reasons instead.
A win against the Group E cannon fodder for Chelsea tonight would be a first in four matches in charge for Benitez, but won't be enough for the champions to avoid the embarrassment of an early exit from the tournament if Juventus secure a point or more against already-qualified Shakhtar Donetsk in the Donbass Arena. But despite the icy cold welcome extended to him by fans of a team whose chances of making the knockout stages are hanging by a thread, Benitez was upbeat in yesterday's pre-match media pow-wow, which you can read all about in our man Dominic Fifield's report.