The challenge of the English Premier League in this year’s Champions League is hanging by a thread after Chelsea’s woeful defending allowed a one-goal lead to turn into a crushing 3-1 defeat in Napoli. Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has come under increasing pressure as the Blues faltering campaign reached a new low.
Villas-Boas had been set the task of rebuilding an ageing Chelsea side whilst continuing to compete for trophies but they have now in real danger of exiting both European and domestic competitions and face a struggle to secure Champions League qualification for next season. They were gifted a lifeline when Juan Mata seized on a poor clearance to fire the Blues ahead but some woeful defending by the visitors allowed Napoli to go into the break with a 2-1 lead. Levezzi was given far too much time to fire home a 25-yard curler and Cavani bundled home a scrappy goal 2 minutes into first-half stoppage time.
Chelsea emerged in a more positive mood for the second-half and had the majority of the early possession but failed to make it pay. Much worse was to follow for the beleaguered Blues when under-fire central defender David Luiz made a complete hash of a clearance that left Cech hopelessly stranded for Levezzi to slot into an empty net. Even in the closing minutes, Chelsea had opportunities to grab a vital second but Drogba, in for the struggling Torres, squandered the best of them when he contrived to hook wide of the target. It completed a miserable night for Chelsea who must now try to become only the fourth team in Champions League history to overturn a 2 goal deficit in the return leg.
In Tuesday night’s other last-16-tie, Real Madrid were denied victory in the frozen Luzhniki Stadium by a late leveller from CSA Moscow. The Spaniards took the lead in the 28th minute when Ronaldo was given an opportunity by slack defending. He wasted no time in powering a shot under the keeper Chepchugov. The former Manchester United man had two glorious opportunities to seal the win later the game, being denied once by the keeper and later sidefooting wide of the left post.
Madrid seemed in full control of the game and were stunned when Wernbloom latched on to a header from Aleksei Berezutski to the delight of the home fans. It was a disappointing end to the evening for Mourinho’s men but they have the advantage of the away goal and will be fully expected to make their way through to the quarter-finals in the return leg.