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Tuesday, 7 December, 1999, 22:03 GMT
Chelsea survive Euro grilling
Deschamps fends off Lazio's Diego Simeone


Lazio 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea survived a fierce test of their European credentials, grinding out a valuable draw against Lazio in Rome, despite having their manager sent off.

Gianluica Vialli's men played a near-perfect continental encounter, soaking up Italian pressure while displaying their own counter-attacking threat.

Vialli is dismissed by fourth official Franz Xavier Wack
Vialli was forced to watch a third of the match from a television monitor in the tunnel after being red-carded for swearing but his players rallied in his absence.

There were no goals at the Olympic stadium but the acheivement of resisting the finest side in the Italian Serie A should not be under-estimated.

Chelsea looked unrecognisable from the side that lost 4-1 to Sunderland at the weekend.

The return of right-back Albert Ferrer and French defensive marshall Frank Leboeuf gave the London side far more resilience at the back while Dan Petrescu and and Didier Deschamps revitalised their midfield.


I certainly did something wrong and I excuse myself for that but the linesman made a mistake and I lost it a bit
An apologetic Gianluca Vialli

Ferrer and Petrescu combined smoothly to give Chelsea a threatening, latent potency down the right flank.

But Vialli's men had little opportunity to display it, as for large parts of the game they needed to be at their best at the back.

Lazio - with Roberto Mancini and Simone Inzaghi up front - tore into Chelsea from the kick-off.

Marcel Desailly, in a different class from the man who was pulled off at half-time in the Stadium of Light, stood firm as Chelsea absorbed all the Italians could throw at them.

Leboeuf closes down Inzaghi
Pavel Nedved believed he should have had a penalty when he clashed with Desailly going for a 50-50 ball but German referee Hellmut Krug waved play on.

And Chelsea needed the 6ft 5ins frame of keeper Ed De Goey to deny Inzaghi, who burst clear in the 38th minute but fired straight at the Dutchman.

In the second half Chelsea had a new threat to contend with - the prolific Chilean striker Marcelo Salas.

But it was the visitors who made the most confident start, Flo denied only by the referee's whistle in the 54th minute.

The Norwegian had burst through and was taking aim inside the penalty area when Krug deemed he had fouled Fernando Couto en route to goal.

The incident incensed Vialli.

We tried everything to win, but it was tough for us to break down their defence
Lazio captain Alessandro Nesta

Chelsea's Italian manager, normally so self-controlled, carried on a heated dispute with the assistant referee and was finally ordered from the pitch, apparently for swearing.

He must wait to discover if Uefa impose a touchline ban in one or more of Chelsea's remaining Champions League matches.

With twenty minutes to go and Lazio becoming increasingly desperate, Lazio coach Sven Goran Eriksson brought on Croatian striker Alen Boksic for Attilo Lombardo.

However it was Chelsea who almost took a precious lead when Gianfranco Zola produced a delightful piece of skill.

Poyet slips past Gottardi
Played in by Tore Andre Flo, Zola's cheeky chip beat keeper Luca Marchegiani only to be cleared off the line by Guerino Gottardi with Babayaro bearing down.

Their ambition left openings for Lazio, and a rash decision by De Goey to try and claim a high ball while the influential Desailly was off the pitch, nearly gifted the Italians a goal with eight minutes to go.

Argentina international Juan Veron, possibly the most creative influence on the pitch, almost unlocked Chelsea in the 87th minute but the referee ruled Salas was offside.

Boksic found space with two minutes played of injury time but his spinning shot flew high to leave the game goalless.

The result puts Chelsea and Lazio even on points, with the pair facing home and away ties against Marseille and Feyenoord before a final encounter at Stamford Bridge on March 22 which is likely to settle the outcome of Group D.

Teams:

Lazio: Luca Marchegiani, Giuseppe Favalli, Alessandro Nesta, Fernando Couto, Guerino Gottardi, Diego Simeone, Attilio Lombardo, Juan Veron, Pavel Nedved; Roberto Mancini,-Simone Inzaghi.

Chelsea: Ed de Goey, Albert Ferrer, Dan Petrescu Celestine Babayaro, Frank Leboeuf, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Dennis Wise, Gustavo Poyet Gianfranco Zola, Tore Andre Flo.
Referee: Hellmut Krug (Germany)

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  Champions League
Depleted Blues face night of destiny
04 Dec 99 |  FA Carling Premiership
Chelsea shot down in flames
24 Nov 99 |  Champions League
Blues win Dutch mismatch
08 Dec 99 |  Champions League
Champions League group tables
08 Dec 99 |  Champions League
Champions League fixtures and results
Links to other Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.