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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 22:02 GMT
Lazio steal Chelsea's thunder

Poyet's first-half goal celebrations were short-lived
Chelsea 1-2 Lazio

Chelsea must take the hard route through the last eight of the Champions League after allowing Lazio to steal their place at the top of Group D.

Things are difficult now but it seems to me that when things are difficult and almost impossible we get the best out of this team

Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli
Having already qualified, a draw or a win would have seen Gianluca Vialli's men avoid the three other Champions League group winners and secure a home draw.

Instead they succumbed to their first home defeat in Europe in 33 matches dating back to 1958, a defeat which means they must now face either Bayern Munich, Manchester United or Barcelona in the quarter-final.

Their place among the seeds is taken by Lazio, the only Italian side left in European competition, who survived a late Chelsea fight-back with only ten men.

Lazio spurned a host of chances before finding the net
Chelsea took an unlikely lead through a Gustavo Poyet drive, but Lazio always had their measure and hit back through second-half goal from Simone Inzaghi and Sinisa Mihajlovic.

The Premiership side became the first English club to field a team full of foreigners in a European game with Vialli opting to leave out captain Dennis Wise.

But their array of foreign stars failed to live up to their billing as some hapless defending and half-hearted tackling allowed Lazio the run of Stamford Bridge.

For much of the game, Chelsea survived despite themselves.
Match facts
44 mins: Poyet drives Chelsea into the lead
56 mins: Inzaghi bundles in the equaliser
67 mins: Mihajlovic wins it with a stunning free-kick
83 mins: Couto sent off
The London side took an entirely undeserved first-half lead thanks to Poyet's late thunderbolt.

The Uruguayan's 25-yard strike on the stroke of half time rescued Chelsea, who until then had been drowning under wave after wave of Italian pressure.

It proved a momentary respite.

In virtually the first move of the match Lazio had a chance to take the lead and by the end of the match could have scored four or five.

Inzaghi: Held off Desailly to scramble the equaliser
The Italians looked a yard sharper while Chelsea, knowing a draw would have been enough to see them seal first place in the group, appeared unsure whether to attack or defend.

The indecision cost them dear.

The absence of talismanic skipper Wise was keenly felt as his replacement Roberto Di Matteo, the former Lazio player, and Dider Deshamps were entirely over-run in midfield.

Juan Sebastian Veron had a driven shot tipped wide, Pavel Nedved's 35-yard shot flew straight at de Goey, Dejan Stankovich headed marginally over the bar and Chelsea were lucky to scramble a Mihajlovic free-kick clear after it had bounced off the Dutch keeper's chest.

I told them to play the game of their lives and that's what happened

Lazio coach Sven-Goran Erikson
Despite this onslaught, astonishingly, Lazio found themselves a goal behind at the interval.

If Chelsea had been unimpressive in the first half, then Poyet was the ring-leader. Yet he fired Chelsea ahead with a wicked 25-yard drive which took a minor deflection as it flew into the net.

But Lazio, unbeaten away from home in Europe for three and a half years, were undetered.

Coach Sven-Goran Erikson introduced Boksic alongside Inzaghi for the restart and within a minutes he nearly found the equaliser, his left-foot chip grazing the side netting.

Three minutes later Nedved had another chance but his poor right-foot shot flew wide.

The midfielder's touch let him down again when he was put through in acres of space but, as the ball slid wide, he hit a first-time cut-back which Inzaghi anticipated superbly to scramble over the line.

Flo leaps ahead of Mihajlovic
A 1-1 scoreline would have been enough to seal second place for Lazio but the Italians were not prepared to settle for second best.

A worried Vialli replaced Frank Leboeuf, who will miss Chelsea's next European game after picking up a booking, with Jes Hogh.

Lazio finally hit the front with 23 minutes to go thanks to a sensational curling freekick from Mihajlovic.

Temperamental Fernando Couto almost pressed the self-destruct button when he picked up a second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Deschamps and was ordered from the pitch.

Chelsea, inspired by substitutes John Harley and Jody Morris, finally decided to go for broke.

Dan Petrescu hit the post but even with their one-man advantage, Chelsea's European pretensions were finally exposed.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Petrescu, Di Matteo, Deschamps, Poyet, Flo, Zola.
Subs: Cudicini, Hogh, Sutton, Ambrosetti, Morris, Thome, Harley.

Lazio: Marchegiani, Negro, Couto, Mihajlovic, Pancaro, Stankovic, Veron, Simeone, Almeyda, Nedved, Inzaghi.
Subs: Ballotta, Sensini, Conceicao, Boksic, Salas, Mancini, Gottardi.

Referee: Vitor Manuel Melo Pereira (Portugal)

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See also:

22 Mar 00 | Champions League
Lucky scrape for Real
21 Mar 00 | Champions League
United win home tie from stalemate
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Chelsea seal quarter-final spot
22 Mar 00 | Champions League
Wise worry for Chelsea
29 Feb 00 | Champions League
Chelsea go down in Marseille
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Do-or-die for Lazio
20 Mar 00 | Champions League
Fight for Champions League KO
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Man Utd qualify with ease
21 Mar 00 | Champions League
Porto into last eight
08 Mar 00 | Champions League
Wise rescues below-par Blues
Links to other Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.