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Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 20:04 GMT 21:04 UK

Sport: Football

Chelsea make European history


Skonto Riga 0-3 Chelsea
Chelsea win 3-0 on aggregate

Chelsea eased their way into the Champion's League for the first time in their history with a comfortable 3-0 aggregate win over Latvian champions Skonto Riga.

The Blues drew 0-0 on a chilly night in Riga but made it into the group draw thanks to three goals scored at Stamford Bridge in the home leg two weeks ago.

It was a historic night for Chelsea, belied by the subdued atmosphere of the small ground flanked by a single 5,000-capacity stand.

[ image: Turning point: Andreij Tereskins sending off in the first leg]
Turning point: Andreij Tereskins sending off in the first leg
But it did not dillute the pride of manager Gianluca Vialli who could not disguise his pride at his acheivement.

He steered Chelsea to their second Cup Winners Cup in 1998 but such has been the transformation of the London club their ambition now reaches to Europe's top trophy.

The FA told Chelsea not to enter the then Champions Cup in 1954 for fear of fixture congestion.

Now the competition is regarded as the supreme prize in club football - not least for the several million pounds earnt simply by making the first round - and Chelsea among others have developed their famous rotational squad system to cope with the pressures.

It was evident in Riga as Vialli left 10m man Chris Sutton and Frank Leboeuf on the bench and handed a start to talented 18-year-old Finn Mikael Forrsell instead.

Gianfranco Zola was also on the bench and Chelsea's lead was cofmortable enough for Vialli to substitute influential midfielder Gus Poyet as well as goalkeeper Ed de Hoey.

Didier Deschamps and Graeme Le Saux did not travel with the squad because of injury and Ambrosetti was not considered match fit.

With such a lot at stake Vialli's men were clearly not prepared to simply sit on the lead and Chelsea attacked with purpose from the kick-off.

In the first ten minutes, keeper Alex Kolinko - who held out so resolutely for so long in London - was forced to save four goal-gound attempts.

He pulled off a fantastic save to deny striker Tore Andre Flo, who should have set up team-mate Jody Morris for what would have been a simple side-footed goal but opted to shoot from the finest of angles instead.

By the second half the Chelsea players realised the job was done and relaxed allowing Riga a brief flurry of chances - both from striker David Chaladze.

But Chelsea knew their name was alreayd in the hat for the group draw along with Arsenal and Manchester United - although the Uefa computer has been programmed to keep teams from the same country apart.

The only other talking point from the game was the appearance of substitute goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, making his debut for Chelsea.

Skonto Riga: Kolinko, Silagadze, Zemlinskis, Blagonabezdins, Rekhviashvili, Bleidelis, Rubins, Miholaps, Laizans (Kolesnicenko 87), Astafjevs, Chaladze (Babichev 62).
Subs: Stephnous, Menteshashvili, Piedels, , Korgalidze, Olsanskis.
Chelsea: De Goey (Cudicini 78), Petrescu, Babayaro, Hogh, Desailly, Poyet ( Nicholls 64), Wise, Goldbaek, Flo, Morris, Forssell.
Subs: Leboeuf, Sutton, Zola, Clement, Harley.
Referee: Gilles Veissiere (France)

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