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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK

Chelsea crash in Berlin

Celestine Babayaro missed one of Chelsea's best chances

Hertha Berlin 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea were defeated in Berlin's Olympic Stadium after Iranian international Ali Daei twice capitalised on some awful defending.

Vialli: "There is still time for us to redeem ourselves"
The Blues were behind as early as the third minute, when the striker made the most of a free header from inside the box.

BBC Football Correspondent Ian Brown: "This was a rank bad result"
The second goal, on 70 minutes, was an even bigger error from the Chelsea backline.

Frank Leboeuf failed to get to a sloppy pass inside his own half, and the Iranian ran directly at Ed de Goey to slot the ball inside the Dutchman's left-hand post.

[ image: Dennis Wise finds it hard during the first half]
Dennis Wise finds it hard during the first half
Chelsea were poor in the first half, but despite an improvement after the break, their finishing let them down.

Leboeuf converted a penalty with five minutes left to set up a furious last few minutes, but the Berliners held firm.

Chelsea missed Gustavo Poyet's forceful midfield play, and afterwards manager Gianluca Vialli admitted they had been second best.

"Hertha were very well organised and fought bravely," said the Italian.

"We were too passive in the first half and we woke up too late. We should have put them under pressure from the start but we just couldn't do it."

Early strike

From the start it might have been Chelsea celebrating an early goal when Gianfranco Zola forced Gabor Kiraly to make a sharp save to his right.

But it was the Blues who committed the sin of conceding in the early stages when World Cup striker Daei rose to head home a left-wing cross after a flowing move.

Pal Dardai sprayed a long pass out to Anthony Sanneh raiding forward in space on the left.

[ image: Didier Deschamps is derailed in midfield]
Didier Deschamps is derailed in midfield
The American's cross was headed home from eight yards by Daei, who had drifted between Marcel Desailly and Leboeuf.

Berliners had flocked to the historic Olympic Stadium - scene of the 1936 games - to see the home debut of their team in the Champions League.

And now they had something to shout about as Chelsea's World Cup-winning central defenders allowed the Iranian a free header.

The Berliners grew in confidence and Chelsea's best first-half chance did not fall to Tore Andre Flo until moments before half-time.

Second half improvement

The Londoners looked brighter after the break, with Zola going close twice and Celestine Babayaro striking the side-netting.

Kiraly also twice denied Flo, who was eventually replaced by Sutton while winger Gabriele Ambrosetti came on for full-back Albert Ferrer.

But as Chelsea enjoyed their best period of the game, the German side were handed the chance of a second with more careless defending.

Daei was 30 yards from de Goey's goal when he picked up Desailly's careless ball, but made no mistake with a superb curled finish which kissed the post and nestled in the net.

Sutton was fouled five minutes from time and Leboeuf slammed home his penalty nervelessly.

But it was not enough and Chelsea are stuck at the bottom of their Champions League group with four games to go.


Hertha Berlin: Kiraly, Herzog, Schmidt, Van Burik, Dardai, Sanneh, Deisler, Tretschok, Wosz, Preetz, Daei. Subs: Fiedler, Roy, Veit, Reiss, Michalke, Aracic, Helmer.

Chelsea: De Goey, Le Saux, Desailly, Leboeuf, Ferrer, Babayaro, Wise, Deschamps, Petrescu, Zola, Flo. Subs: Cudicini, Hogh, Sutton, Ambrosetti, Morris, Lambourde, Forssell.

Referee: M Piraux (Belgium)

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