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Tuesday, October 26, 1999 Published at 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK

Vialli's finest hour

Wise showed the touch of a born-striker when he put Chelsea level

AC Milan 1-1 Chelsea

Gianluca Vialli reached his finest hour as Chelsea manager, proving his Italian doubters wrong with a hugely valuable Champions League draw against European giants AC Milan.

A late equaliser from skipper Dennis Wise leaves Chelsea needing only a draw with group leaders Hertha Berlin at Stamford Bridge to progress to the competition's second round.

It was an epic European performance from Chelsea.

The London club's continental line-up displayed all their flair and passion as they forced the Italian giants onto the back foot from kick off.

Norwegian stiker Tore Andre Flo ran his socks off as Chelsea attacked from all quarters.

[ image: Zola had a point to prove to the Italian public]
Zola had a point to prove to the Italian public
Milan's German striker Oliver Bierhoff looked to have secured the win when he clipped home a 74th minute header somewhat against the run of play.

But Wise hit back three minutes later to put Chelsea on course for Round Two.

From the way the game opened, it was obvious Vialli and his many former Serie A club-mates were desperate for victory on their return to Italian soil.

With Milan believing they needed a no less than a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive, there was never any danger of this fixture turning into a stale European encounter.

Flo scored twice against Turkish tormenters Galatasaray and the Milan defence boxed him in at every opportunity.

Flo still managed to find space but he wasted several first-half chances, including a virtual open goal when he arrived perfectly in the six yard box to meet a Dennis Wise cross but scooped his shot over the bar.

Containment policy

Milan's top scorer Shevchenko was also well shepherded by Chelsea defence but he too managed to cause problems.

A screaming first-half freekick looked goalbound but it swung just wide of the left hand post.

Shevchenko actually beat De Goey with a downward header but the ball hit the left-hand post.

De Goey made a critical mistake in the derby against Arsenal but he made a crucial save eight minutes into the second half when he flew to his right to tip an Ambrosini volley round the post.

Three minutes later Bierhoff looked to have worked himself clear of the Chelsea back four as the ball richocheted back to him on the far post - but he put his header over the bar.

The match was played at a frenetic pace - stoked by the thick firecracker smoke which swirled around the San Siro.

Milan looked more composed after the break but Chelsea had only one thing in mind - scoring.

No surrender

They refused to compromise their attacking style and with twenty two minutes to go looked to have been rewarded when Gus Poyet darted between two defenders to find himself with the simplest of headers from six yards out. But he directed it straight at Christian Abbiati.

Seconds later the miss looked to have proved fatal when Bierhoff beat Leboeuf to a near-post cross and tucked the ball past De Goey to earn his side the lead.

But four minutes later Chelsea grabbed an equaliser in the most emphatic fashion.

Roberto De Matteo, making his Champions League debut in place of the injured Poyet, hit a teasing, looping high ball over the Milan back four which Wise controlled with the touch of a born-striker, and then clipped under the body of the advancing Abbiati.

Vialli, normally the most reserved of managers, erupted from the touchline in a picture of jubilation.

With ten minutes remaining, news came through that Galatasaray were leading Hertha Berlin 3-1.

The news put a new complexion on the match. Milan's coaches realised a draw with Chelsea would be enough to qualify if they beat the Turks in their final game and the Italians appeared to ease down a gear.

Chelsea now play Hertha Berlin and need only a draw to take them through ahead of Milan on goal-difference.


AC Milan: Abbiati, Costacurta, Ayala, Maldini, Guly, Gattuso, Ambrosini, Leonardo, Serginho, Bierhoff, Shevchenko.
Subs: Rossi, Helveg, Boban, De Ascentis, Orlandini, N'gotty, Sala.
Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Petrescu, Deschamps, Wise, Poyet, Zola, Flo.
Subs: Cudicini, Hogh, Sutton, Di Matteo, Ambrosetti, Morris, Lambourde.
Referee: Nikolai Levnikov (Russia)

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