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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 7 April 2007  - 12:00

A goal six minutes into the second half resulted in us falling to a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

A goal six minutes into the second half resulted in us falling to a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Ricardo Carvalho's strike from distance in a game of few clear chances proved decisive, but both Mido and Dimitar Berbatov will consider themselves unfortunate not to have added their names to the scoresheet with second half headers.

There were five changes from the side that began Thursday night's exertions in Seville with Ricardo Rocha returning to the team after being unavailable for UEFA Cup duty. He stepped in in the middle of defence with Pascal Chimbonda switching to the left to cover for the injured Lee Young-Pyo.

In midfield Hossam Ghaly and Steed Malbranque replaced Aaron Lennon and Didier Zokora, with Mido and Jermain Defoe selected in place of Berbatov and Robbie Keane.

There was a state of high alert in the opening minute when a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross just cleared the head of Didier Drogba as Chelsea began in lively fashion. Another cross from Wright-Phillips caused a considerable degree of mayhem and resulted in Salomon Kalou firing over when he probably should have been celebrating.

Chelsea were looking the sharper, fresher team in the first 15 minutes - probably a bit like a team that have been home since their last game. But despite holding sway in terms of territory, the home side were not making too many in-roads into our re-shuffled defences.

The next half chance came after the 30 minute mark and again it was Wright-Phillips, this time skipping through and firing a few yards wide of Paul Robinson's left-hand upright.

From a sortie upfield moments later there was a shooting chance for Malbranque from Ghaly's low cross, but a lunge from Calvalho stopped the process in its tracks. Then from a long free-kick and Drogba flick on, there was a big chance for Frank Lampard that Michael Dawson did well to divert from danger before Robinson was called into action to deny Carvalho.

These were rare points of goalmouth activity and the game remaining goalless at the break was not completely unexpected.

We came close to securing the lead on 49 minutes when a Chimbonda cross was nodded back across the area by Ghaly into the path of Mido who was able to power in a header. Unfortunately, Petr Cech was able to read the flight of the ball and tip over the bar.

Two minutes later though, it was the home side who did snare an advantage when Carvalho tried his luck with a low drive from roughly 35 yards and the ball took a bounce and ended up in the bottom right hand corner of the net.

It could have been two moments later but Robinson saved excellently with his feet to deny Mikel a tap in from a Drogba cross. The striker later stung the palms of Robinson with a fierce drive as Martin Jol signalled his first change of the afternoon.

Before this was made Defoe crashed the ball off the chest of Cech, while Adel Taarabt awaiting his second Premiership appearance in our colours. It came on 64 minutes with Tainio making way for the 17-year-old.

It was so nearly a stunning introduction and Cech had to be at his best to turn away a drilled shot from the midfield playmaker a minute after his arrival on the pitch. Berbatov was next on the scene seeking his second goal on this arena after scoring here in the FA Cup a few weeks ago. In the meantime, Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko were summoned from the bench by Jose Mourinho.

None of the changes particularly altered the course of the game and Zokora was next into the fray with ten minutes remaining as our final option. It was from his free-kick that Cech was forced into another tip over when Berbatov made a strong connection. Unfortunately, like with Mido's header earlier, this was one that didn't force the keeper to reach left or right.


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