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Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 18:30 GMT
Doubts linger over Blues

34-year-old Beagrie (l) loses out to Chelsea midfielder Goldbaek

Chelsea 1-0 Bradford City

A single strike from Tore Andre Flo earnt Chelsea three points against Bradford City but did little to dispell accusations that Gianluca Vialli's star-studded side have lost their domestic form.

Chelsea had only managed two points from the last five games Vialli desperately needed a win to have any chance of catching up with the Premiership leaders.

Goldbaek (l) tussles with Jamie Lawrence
And though Flo's 16th minute shot earnt the points, Bradford City were far from outplayed and created their fair share of chances.

For weeks criticism had been building that Vialli was gambling away Chelsea's Premiership challenge by staking too much on his European adventures.

And though the visit of relegation battlers Bradford in theory offered him plenty of scope to rest his key players, this time the Italian appeared to have heeded the warnings

For though there was no showing for Frank Leboeuf and skipper Dennis Wise, their absence was due to suspension rather than complacency.

Jody Morris and Jes Hogh took their place and Bjarne Goldbaek joined the ranks of stand-ins when Dan Petrescu limped off injured just before the half hour.

By then the game had entered a distinct lull following Tore Andre Flo's 16th minute opening goal.

Corner kick

Flo scored his sixth Premiership goal of the season when he barged his way onto the edge of the six-yard box to side-foot home a Gianfranco Zola corner, losing his boot as he did so.

The goal aside, Bradford matched their fashionable hosts and could have been level had Peter Beagrie chosen a different path after robbing Chelsea's right-back Albert Ferrer in the 25th minute.

Instead of squaring the ball across the face of goal for his incoming team-mates, Beagrie opted to attempt to chip Chelsea's 6ft 6ins keeper Ed De Goey.

Zola has only scored twice this season and he cannot have had many better chances than ten minutes before half-time when a deflected Morris shot landed invitingly into his path.

But the Italian sliced his shot wide. Chelsea immediately had another stroke of luck at the other end, when De Goey scuffed his clearance straight into the advancing Lee Mills but saw the ball cannon harmlessly away.

Tough nut

Chelsea scored five against Manchester United and five more against Galatasaray but they found Bradford a much harder nut to crack.

Morris worked hard in midfield but with Wise missing, Zola misfiring upfront and Flo and attacking midfielder Gus Poyet often clambering over each other to get at the ball, they were not at their free-flowing best.

But despite that, the lead would have been stretched to three or four had it not been for the excellent form of Bradford keeper Matt Clarke.

First he saved Zola's point-blank header from a delightful Flo cross.

Then when he committed his only mistake of the game by advancing recklessly to close down the Italian, the crossbar came to his rescue.

Flo and Zola switched roles to create another chance on 77 minutes. The big Norwegian believed he had scored but the referee ruled Clarke had kept his header from crossing the line.

With five minutes to go Goldbaek powered forward to tee up a shooting chance for Poyet but the Uruguayan's powerful side-footed drive was tipped round by Clarke.

Chelsea will say they could have stepped up a gear but Bradford would have loved to put that to the test.

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Hogh, Babayaro, Petrescu, Morris, Deschamps, Poyet, Flo, Zola.
Subs: Goldbaek, Di Matteo, Lambourde, Cudicini, Della Bona.

Bradford: Clarke, Halle, Wetherall, O'Brien, Myers, Lawrence, Windass, Redfearn, Whalley, Beagrie, Mills.
Subs: Westwood, Blake, Rankin, Dreyer, Taylor.
Referee: A Wiley (Walsall)

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