Marseille 1 Chelsea 0: Brandao strikes as problems pile up for Carlo Ancelotti

09 December 2010 10:02
Beyond the emotion of Didier Drogba's return to Marseille came another defeat and another of those misfiring Chelsea performances which must be driving Carlo Ancelotti to the brink of tears.

The Chelsea manager admits his sleep is disturbed by his team's terrible dip in form and he sent a strong side into this dead rubber in the hope they might stumble upon some rhythm. They didn't.

This was a long way from fluent and, although defeat does not stop them qualifying for the Champions League's last 16 as winners of Group F, the worrying trend continues.

Air time: Russian referee Vladislav Bezborodov pointed to the spot before reversing his decision to a corner after Florent Malouda was brought down in the area by Souleymane Diawara

They were second best in the StadeVelodrome, unable to inject any zip into their passing and onlyfitfully threatening in attack. They were unlucky not to be awarded apenalty or two but at the back they continued to look vulnerable.

It did not help that Drogba wasawful. 'You say you love L'OM, prove it,' said a banner held byMarseille fans, and he did nothing to hurt the club where he remains ahero more than six years after leaving for London. Seemingly incapableof holding anything up or linking play, and perhaps still suffering theafter-effects of malaria, Drogba also flicked Chelsea's best chanceover in the first half with the outside of his boot and was replaced byDaniel Sturridge after an hour.

'Maybe the emotion got to him, I don't know,' shrugged Ancelotti.

Have a word: Chelsea captain John Terry vents his frustration towards referee Bezborodov after his refusal to award the visitors a penalty

John Terry had also been substitutedby the time Brandao forced in the only goal of the game nine minutesfrom time. Taye Taiwo's cross deflected off Ramires and fell for theBrazilian striker, who escaped Branislav Ivanovic to score.

To make matters worse, Jose Bosingwathen hobbled off with a hamstring injury which will rule him out ofSunday's derby at Tottenham. Ancelotti's squad cannot afford to takemany more hits. Luck is running low for the manager.

On another night, Chelsea might havehad a couple of penalties before half-time. Florent Malouda appearedoffside as he broke clear of the Marseille back four but the linesman'sflag stayed down and Souleymane Diawara chased back to slide clumsilyinto the striker as he prepared to shoot.

Fall guy: Drogba's plea for a penalty is also overlooked after colliding with Souleymane Diawara

It looked a penalty and refereeVladislav Bezborodov, in charge of his first Champions League game,pointed to the spot, only to change his mind after a franticconversation with his linesman, after which he signalled a corner.Chelsea were furious and Terry, captain of the team for the 350th time,charged to discuss the issue forcefully with the Russian referee. Itwas to no avail.

They had another decent penaltyshout rejected before the break, when Diawara tripped Salomon Kaloufrom behind. In between, however, they were fortunate to escape whenGabriel Heinze glanced Benoit Cheyrou's free-kick into Petr Cech's net.It was ruled out for offside but television replays proved the formerManchester United full back was probably level.

Not guilty: Souleymane Diawara holds his hands up as he is let off the hook again as Solomon Kalou takes a tumble inside the box

Marseille dominated from the start,with Fabrice Abriel tormenting stand-in left back Paulo Ferreira andMathieu Valbuena causing problems in the hole behind Brandao.

Valbuena was impressive for Franceagainst England at Wembley last month and revelled in the earlypositional uncertainty of Josh McEachran, rattling the bar from 25yards and flashing a diving header narrowly wide.

McEachran, anchoring the midfieldtrio with John Mikel Obi on the bench to avoid collecting a bookingwhich would mean a ban, slowly adjusted to his defensive duties butAncelotti made a change at half-time, releasing the teenager into amore advanced position and dropping Michael Essien back.

Look who's back: Defender Charles Kabore looks on as former Marseille striker Didier Drogba (L) hits his shot just wide

The changealmost paid off immediately, with McEachran sliding a wonderful passbehind right back Charles Kabore to release Malouda, who cut inside butcould muster no power in his shot.

Steve Mandanda in the Marseille goal was rarely extended and, once Brandao struck, there was only one outcome.

Blue day: Former Chelsea star Didier Deschamps piled on the misery for Carlo Ancelotti as his marseille side celebrated the win

Defeat means Chelsea failed in theirbid to become the first English team to win all six group games in theChampions League but they had already won Group F and go into nextweek's draw for the first knock-out round as a seeded team.

Holders Inter Milan, who beatChelsea last season, are among those they could face in the last 16.Ancelotti's former club AC Milan and Valencia are other dangers lurkingin the pot of runners-up.

Chelsea can hide behind the factthat they have finished top of the group and are in touch with PremierLeague leaders Arsenal but the trends are disturbing for Ancelotti - andthey must be altered soon.

 My heart is at Marseille, says Drogba ahead of Champions League return Chelsea target Andjelkovic seals £1m move from Maribor to PalermoCHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Marseille v Chelsea as it happenedCHELSEA FC

Source: Daily_Mail

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