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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 12:59 GMT


Foreign legion raise Blue flag

Deschamps lets fly for Chelsea's first

Chelsea 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Chelsea came of age as a European footballing force with a convincing 2-0 dismantling of German side Hertha Berlin which earns them a place among the seeds in the final 16 of the Champions League.

Frenchman Didier Deschamps scored his first goal in European football and Spanish right-back Albert Ferrer scored his first for Chelsea as the London club continued their modern day renaissance.

But although Chelsea's foreign legion stole the headlines, architect of the victory was home-grown skipper Dennis Wise.

Wise was at the heart of an impressive Chelsea performance that was the perfect response to chairman Ken Bates' criticisms of their recent lapses against lesser opposition.

Manager Gianluca Vialli, who accepted most of Bates's complaints, was delighted.

'Great night'

"It's a great night for the players, the supporters and the club. To go through was the main aim but we have won our group in our first season in the Champions League," Vialli said.

"We didn't speak to the chairman before the game but I think he will be pleased!

"It's a great achievement for the club. But the next stage will be against the best 16 teams in Europe so it's going to be tough.

"Our season is not quite positive yet. At the moment we are happy about the result but now we have to perform in the same way against West Ham on Sunday."

Cynics predicted Chelsea and Berlin, both needing just a point to qualify for the second phase, would shake hands on a sterile draw.

But with the group so open that every side still had something to play for, even if one needed a calculator to work out exactly what it was, the sparks flew around Stamford Bridge.

Vialli picked the most attacking side possible, opting to play all three of his most potent front men in a three-pronged attack.

Striking trio

Chris Sutton and Tore Andre Flo led the line while Italian wizzard Gianfranco Zola hung just behind them.

The formation looked a trifle unwieldy in the opening ten minutes although Berlin appeared to have little to trouble the home side.

With Zola man-marked by Van Burik, it fell on Chelsea's three-man midfield to provide the inspiration.

They did not disappoint. After just eleven minutes Deschamps, rampant in Chelsea's valuable 1-1 draw in Milan which sowed the seeds of their qualification, rose to the occasion once more.

He swept up a lose ball given away by striker Ali Daei and after pushing the ball into his stride, let fly a 25-yard drive which swerved viciously into the right hand corner for his first European goal in 73 continental appearances.

Flo, Zola, Marcel Desailly, Petrescu and Wise all then came close in a flurry of first-half chances which ended in an inevitable second goal, a minute before half time.

It was created by the persistence and the vision of Wise.

Right on

First he elbowed his way past a German midfielder to win the ball and then he sprayed a first-time pass out to Chelsea's right-flank, scene of much promise all night.

His looping ball found Ferrer and the right-back controlled it with the outside of his boot before lashing a shot past Kiraly.

Chelsea sank into a momentary lull after the break and were nearly punished when Sebastien Deisler, dubbed Germany's hottest young player, rounded Ferrer and then beat De Goey only to see his shot smack the inside of the post.

Chelsea were spurred back into life and within minutes created further openings for Flo and Wise.

They reverted back to a four-man midfield with twenty five minutes to go when Zola and Hogh were replaced by Gus Poyet and Frank Leboeuf.

But the air of complacency which allowed Arsenal to come back at them from two goals down a fortnight ago, returned as Chelsea surrendered their hard-earned initiative.

They defended deeper and deeper and allowed Hertha Berlin, still chasing the point they believed they needed to beat AC Milan to the second qualification spot, to surge back at them.

The Germans left gaping holes at the back which Chelsea were unable - or unwilling - to exploit. Sutton capped a disjointed display with a second yellow card a few minutes from time.

Chelsea's place at the top of the group means they will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Lazio but they will need to display greater stamina if they are to compete in the competition's second stage.

Teams:

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Hogh, Desailly, Babayaro, Petrescu, Deschamps, Wise, Zola, Flo, Sutton.
Subs: Cudicini, Leboeuf, Poyet, Ambrosetti, Morris, Lambourde, Forssell.
Hertha Berlin: Kiraly, Rekdal, Van Burik, Wosz, Sanneh, Deisler, Helmer, Sverrisson, Michalke, Daei, Preetz.
Subs: Fiedler, Herzog, Kostantinidis, Schmidt, Neuendorf, Aracic, Thom.
Referee: K Nilsson (Sweden)





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In this section

English sides face Italians again

Foreign legion raise Blue flag

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