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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 21:49 GMT

Chelsea impress in stalemate

Stamford Bridge witnessed a high quality goalless draw

Chelsea 0-0 AC Milan

Chelsea's first appearance in the Champions League ended with the Londoners disappointed not to drive home an advantage over the experienced Italian side.

The BBC's Ian Brown: "Desailly starred at the back for Chelsea"
For players like Gianfranco Zola, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps, this was an opportunity to remind the Italians of the class that made them stars in Serie A.

And the trio showed cynics in Italy that the Premiership is not simply a well-paid retirement home for experienced stars as Chelsea dominated without finding the killer touch.

Zola in particular was brilliant, occasionally prising open the stubborn Italian defence, and hitting the post after one thrilling piece of build-up play.

At the back Desailly reminded his former club that they had sold a quality player who has won this competition twice as well as the World Cup.

The Frenchman was just one of the London club's former Champions League winners alongside Deschamps and Albert Ferrer.

Wise on his own

[ image: Milan's Leonardo gets to grips with Chelsea's Didier Deschamps]
Milan's Leonardo gets to grips with Chelsea's Didier Deschamps
Gianluca Vialli chose Tore Andre Flo up front rather than £10m signing Chris Sutton, leaving Dennis Wise as the only Englishman to start the game.

With so many former Serie A players at Stamford Bridge it was no surprise that the early stages resembled a cagey Italian league encounter.

The midfield was congested, although the home side dominated possession and created a first chance after 13 minutes.

Dan Petrescu was played clear of Paolo Maldini on the Chelsea right, but the Italian recovered brilliantly to challenge the Romanian, who chipped his shot wide.

After 20 minutes Flo put a header wide from a Gustavo Poyet, as Milan began to threaten through Ukrainian Andrei Shevchenko.

Ed de Goey twice saved long range efforts from the £14.7m signing who impressed for Dynamo Kiev in this competition last season.

Chelsea's greater movement still gave them marginally more chances, although Zola's 24th-minute effort was the first they managed on target.

After 32 minutes the former Parma star cleared the crossbar with a free kick, and he also also handed Flo a terrific chance to open the scoring, but the big Norwegian headed wide from a teasing cross.

The second half saw Milan display a greater attacking intent with Albertini testing De Goey with a 30-yard effort and Shevchenko having a header cleared by Frank Leboeuf.

Post saves fortunate Milan

After 64 minutes the tide began to turn again and Zola was extremely unlucky not to open the scoring.

The 33-year-old twisted and turned on the edge of the area, played a neat one-two with Flo, and somehow found a path through the solid Milan defence.

As Abbiati advanced, Zola slipped the ball underneath him, only to see the ball strike the upright and bounce straight back to the fortunate keeper.

There was nothing lucky about Abbiati's next piece of work as Zola was denied with a brilliant save just three minutes later.

English contingent trebled

In the final quarter of an hour Graeme Le Saux and Chris Sutton were brought on by Vialli to treble the English contingent.

The pair were making their first appearances in this competition since the disastrous Blackburn campaign of 1995/6.

Leonardo almost ruined Chelsea's night with a powerful, looping cross which crashed off the crossbar with De Goey beaten.

Wise's unmarked header was saved by Abbiati while Petrescu had a fierce long range drive pushed away by Abbiati.

But in the end the two favourites in this group could not be separated as both showed why they are fancied to make at least the second stage.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Petrescu, Deschamps, Wise, Poyet, Flo, Zola. Subs: Cudicini, Hogh, Sutton, Le Saux, Ambrosetti, Morris, Lambourde.
AC Milan: Abbiati, Ayala, Costacurta, Maldini, Helves, Albertini, Gattuso, Guly, Shevchenko, Bierhoff, Leonardo. Subs: Rossi, Ganz, Day-Ascentis, Giunti, N-gotty, Sala, Serginho.
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)

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