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Champions League - Roma Away 18 Ocotber 2008 - 1-3


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Resuregent Roma Stun Chelsea

By Alan McGuinness

‘Goals change games’, or so the old adage goes.

Well Chelsea’s encounter with Roma this evening demonstrated this perfectly. Chelsea appeared to be in control before Christian Panucci lost his marker and put the Italians ahead.

What followed in the second half was in stark contrast to the first, as Mirko Vucinic added two more goals before John Terry grabbed a consolation strike to make it 3-1. The result leaves Group A wide open, with every single team in with a chance of making it out of the group and into the knockout stages.

In the opening stages Chelsea were allowed to play the ball around by a Roma side who seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure. Deco had the game’s first effort on goal, forcing Doni to make a save.

Vucinic nearly tested Cech moments later, but his hooked effort was over the bar.

Lampard then had Doni scrambling, forcing the keeper to push his long range effort behind the post.

But Chelsea went behind in totally unavoidable circumstances. Mikel carelessly gave away possession and Deco brought down Francesco Totti, who was making inroads towards goal. Cicinho played the ball into the box and ex-Chelsea player Panucci ghosted past a hesitant John Terry and steered the ball home.

Florent Malouda had a chance to restore parity before half time, but he shot wildly wide when played through by John Obi Mikel.

Roma had an appeal for a penalty turned down before half time - Pizarro tumbling under a challenge from Joe Cole. However, replays showed that Cole had got a touch on the ball.

Scolari changed things at the break, taking Cole and Malouda off and sending Beletti and Drogba on in a bid to regain control of the game.

It didn’t work.

With just two minutes of the second half played, Mikel lost the ball and the result was a scorching effort from Vucinic that left Cech grasping at thin air.

Chelsea were reeling, and it got much worse just under 10 minutes later. Mikel, who has been so impressive so far this season, was again at fault. Mikel lost the ball to Vucinic, who accelerated clear of the Nigerian. Mikel attempted to get the ball back off the Serbian but Vucinic shrugged off the challenge and tucked away Roma’s third goal of the game.

Deco, who had been treading a fine line since getting booked in the first half, finally received his marching orders when he attempted to take a quick free kick.

It may have seemed harsh, but the Portuguese was lucky not to have been sent off beforehand.

The chances of Chelsea salvaging something from the game appeared remote, and the Blues never really looked like threatening.

Terry managed to grab a goal in the 75th minute after some confusion in the box, but Roma managed to hang on and secure an unlikely win that means Chelsea’s chances of progressing to the knockout rounds of the Champions League - which seemed so secure a couple of weeks ago - seem very precarious indeed.

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