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The BBC's Ian Brown
"Monsoon conditions hit Stamford Bridge"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
Blues maintain Premiership push
Dennis Wise celebrates with George Weah
Chelsea 2-1 Coventry

Chelsea move fourth in the Premiership, after a second-half comeback against Coventry at Stamford Bridge.

George Weah and Gianfranco Zola rescued the home side, after Gordon Strachan's men had taken an early lead through Scot McAllister.

Without injured Belgian goalscorer Cedric Roussel, the visitors appeared to carry little threat to Vialli's multi-national heroes.

Gianfranco Zola slotted the second
But persistent rain had turned the pitch into a midweek lottery, with the players raising spray with every kick and passes stopping short of their targets with frustrating regularity.

And it was Coventry's persistence that brought them a goal inside the first 20 minutes.

Centre-back Hendry, revelling in the muddy trenches, started it by robbing Flo just inside the Coventry half and kept running after funnelling the ball forward to Noel Whelan.

When the striker's low cross came in the big defender applied a marvellously delicate touch which set up fellow Scot McAllister to coolly tuck the chance away for his 10th goal of the season.

Flo wasted a great chance to equalise, nipping in front of Shaw to meet Emerson Thome's through-ball but lifting his shot over the bar.

But the near-farcical playing surface, with the ball repeatedly held up in surface water, put Chelsea's passing game all at sea and Frank Leboeuf was almost caught out on the edge of his area trying to dribble clear.

Disappearing defence

Coventry's defence had also disappeared, however, and when Dan Petrescu crossed from the right in the 34th minute Gus Poyet was one of three Chelsea players leaping against a single Sky Blue defender.

The Uruguayan headed tamely straight at Magnus Hedman and when Harley came raiding down the left just seconds later, Chippo's desperate tackle dispossessed Zola just as he was about to shoot.

Colin Hendry's own goal shattered Coventry
It was just as frenetic at the other end with Whelan all but scoring a second for Coventry, among a splashing series of miskicks following a corner conceded by Leboeuf's last-ditch tackle.

Just eight minutes after the interval, Weah, replacing Tore Andre Flo, set up winger Gabriele Ambrosetti for a drilled low cross which Colin Hendry turned into his own net.

And four minutes later, Weah was involved again, laying on another perfect pass, this time for Zola to slot home.

Coventry, having looked likely to come away with a surprise success, finished only with an extension to their miserable away record, still without a win outside Highfield Road for a year.

It was anguish especially for Hendry who had been so instrumental in their early goal and battled with true Scottish grit to repel Chelsea's charge.

But once loan-star Weah got into the action, there was little doubt about Chelsea extending their unbeaten Premiership run to a 16th match.


Chelsea: De Goey, Petrescu, Thome, Leboeuf, Harley, Di Matteo, Wise, Morris, Poyet, Flo, Zola. Subs: Hogh, Hitchcock, Ambrosetti, Dalla Bona.

Coventry: Hedman, Telfer, Shaw, Hendry, Froggatt, Chippo, Quinn, McAllister, Hadji, Whelan, Keane. Subs: Burrows, Breen, Eustace, Ogrizovic, Zuniga.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

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