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Friday, October 24, 1997

Sport: Football

Chelsea frozen out

Chelsea and part-timers Tromso battle it out in a blizzard

Chelsea were beaten 3-2 in the first leg of their European Cup Winners' Cup tie against Tromso - a team of part-timers from Norway.

The match, played inside the Arctic Circle, was at times reduced to a farce as the two sides struggled to cope with heavy snow. Play had to be suspended twice so ground staff could redraw the lines by dragging large brooms through the white stuff.

[ image: Chelsea coach Ruud Gullit argues with the ref]
Chelsea coach Ruud Gullit argues with the ref
The arguments will rage over the conditions and Ruud Gullit had a lengthy conversation with the Polish referee, Jacek Granat, after the final whistle.

"That was just a farce," he said afterwards. "I love football but for football to be played you need to have conditions that make it possible.

"We just didn't have that and there's no way that that game should have been played to a finish.

'You cannot call that football'

"In the second-half we couldn't see because the snow was coming into our faces. But it was clear that UEFA had decided the game had to be played even though it wasn't fit.

"For you to be able to play football you must see some green but there was none out there, only white. They even had to stop play twice to sweep the snow off the lines, that's how bad it was. You can not call that football."

But the BBC's Simon Brotherton says the fact is that even allowing for the dreadful conditions, Chelsea played poorly and their only satisfaction came in the form of two excellently-taken late away goals from Jan Luca Vialli.

Having survived an early scare, Chelsea fell behind to a piledriver from AC Milan's Steinar Nilsen after just six minutes.

On 19 it was 2-0 as Frode Fermann slipped past de Hoy's fingers.

During the half time interval, the polar night sky brought forth a blizzard. The pitch turned to white and at time identifying players was less than easy.

[ image: <>]
But between Vialli's two late goals, Tromso's Ulla Martin Erst scored what proved to be the winner as Chelsea dithered over a substitution.

Gullit was left consoling himself: "It didn't look good when we were 2-0 down but we kept going, showed pride and I was delighted by that," he said.


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