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Napoli 3 Chelsea 1: Andre Villas-Boas on the brink

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21 Feb 2012 22:03:30

Napoli 3 Chelsea 1: Andre Villas-Boas on the brink

Andre Villas-Boas needed a vote of confidence more than ever tonight after Chelsea lurched to another defeat that left them in real danger of crashing out of the Champions League. Manager Villas-Boas has repeatedly insisted his job would not depend on the outcome of the last-16 tie with Napoli but, despite an improved attacking performance, his players heaped more pressure on him with another defensive horror show. Having thrown away winning positions countless times both at home and abroad since Villas-Boas took charge, Chelsea did so again tonight to make it five matches without a win. Predator: Napoli striker Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring his team's second goal In the firing line: Andre Villa Boas faces a huge fight to save his job after another poor performance MATCH FACTS Napoli: De Sanctis, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica, Maggio, Inler, Gargano, Zuniga, Hamsik (Pandev 82), Lavezzi (Dzemaili 74), Cavani. Subs not used: Rosati, Grava, Dossena, Fernandez, Britos. Goals: Lavezzi 38, 65, Cavani 45+2. Booked: Campagnaro Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Bosingwa (Cole 12), Ramires, Meireles (Essien 70), Malouda (Lamaprd 70), Sturridge, Drogba, Mata. Subs not used: Turnbull, Torres, Mikel, Kalou. Goals: Mata 27. Booked: Cahill, Meireles. Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain) Attendance: 60,000 They may have had a complaint about the goal that gave Napoli the lead, with Edinson Cavani appearing to turn the ball in with his shoulder, but their defending for the outstanding Ezequiel Lavezzi's double was simply shocking. A 3-1 win was no more than Champions League surprise package Napoli deserved - despite gifting Juan Mata the opening goal - with their attacking trio wreaking havoc against a defence once again badly missing the leadership of injured captain John Terry. Villas-Boas may also come under fire for not starting with Frank Lampard or Michael Essien in what is regarded one of the most hostile atmospheres in Europe. Indeed, the cacophonous Napoli fans, swirling wind and driving rain gave the whole occasion an almost apocalyptic feel. The visitors were immediately under pressure, Petr Cech needing to be alert to race off his line, while captain-for-the-night Didier Drogba briefly stayed down after a clash of heads. Both were a prelude for worse to follow in the 10th minute when Cech produced real heroics after Cavani looked certain to convert Lavezzi's pass, the goalkeeper just getting his foot to the ball. Equaliser: Ezequiel Lavezzi (second left) shoots past the tackle from Gary Cahill to level the scores Handball? Cavani (right) nips in ahead of Branislav Ivanovic (centre) to put Napoli ahead Salt in the wounds: Lavezzi beats Petr Cech to the ball to slot home Napoli's third goal of the night Injury really did then strike when Jose Bosingwa limped off with what looked like a hamstring pull, forcing a half-fit Ashley Cole on far earlier than expected. More brilliance from Cech denied Christian Maggio from a tight angle but Napoli were looking far from secure at the back themselves and, from nothing, they gifted Chelsea the lead. Drogba found Daniel Sturridge, whose cross was inexplicably flicked back towards his own goal by Paolo Cannavaro, falling perfectly for Mata to fire left-footed beyond Morgan De Sanctis. A stunned San Paolo struggled to process what had happened, with the visiting fans finally able to make themselves heard. They might have been celebrating again when Sturridge wasted a glorious opportunity to play in Mata for goal number two, instead greedily trying to beat his man, while the resultant corner saw David Luiz power a header narrowly over. AVB's gamble: Chelsea left a lot of big names on the bench, including Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard Chelsea were in the ascendancy but they allowed Napoli to level seven minutes before half-time, Lavezzi given an age with which to curl a beautiful 25-yard shot beyond Cech. Ramires should have restored the visitors' lead when the home defence parted in front of him but he blazed over the bar. Raul Meireles was booked for handball, suspending himself for the second leg, and there was a suspicion of the same as Napoli scored again two minutes into first stoppage-time. Gokhan Inler's cross reached the far post and Cavani leant his shoulder into the ball to turn it home, the home fans letting off a firework in jubilation. All downhill from here: Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata pounces on a mistake to open the scoring Short-lived joy: Mata celebrates after giving Chelsea the lead in southern Italy Villas-Boas refused to shut up shop after the interval and Marek Hamsik was forced to clear off his own line, while Florent Malouda drilled a volley too close to De Sanctis. But Napoli should have punished another error when Meireles gave Cavani the chance to feed Lavezzi, who dragged wide. Gary Cahill was booked for clattering into the livewire forward and Mata volleyed another shot straight at De Sanctis before a desperate Salvatore Aronica clearance denied Drogba a possible equaliser. Feeling Blue: Didier Drogba (left) and Gary Cahill (centre) react after Lavezzi hits the target Roar: Lavezzi and Cavani celebrate during the Italian side's fine victory at the Stadio San Paolo Napoli were not sitting back either and the latest Luiz howler saw them double their lead in the 65th minute, the defender kicking a long ball straight against Cavani, who squared past the stranded Cech for Lavezzi to steer into an unguarded net. Villas-Boas responded by throwing on Lampard and Essien for Malouda and Meireles, with Lavezzi soon withdrawn for Blerim Dzemaili. Branislav Ivanovic was unable to make the most of a goal-line scramble and Napoli almost killed the match - and perhaps the tie - when Cole cleared Maggio's open-goal effort off the line. Goran Pandev came on for Hamsik and he too might have made it 4-1 but Drogba also went close to giving Chelsea a tie-changing second away goal when he hooked wide.  CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Napoli v Chelsea - all the action from the San Paolo as it happenedEXCLUSIVE: Rafa in frame to replace Villas-Boas if Chelsea's season goes from bad to worseEXCLUSIVE: Terry out of Napoli clash... and AVB rocked as fears grow that Chelsea skipper will miss TWO MONTHSAll the latest Chelsea FC news, features and opinion MOST READ NEWSPrevious123NextFast food CEO on 'Undercover Boss' so horrified by abusive...Now the French say holidaymakers have to carry a...A traffic accident, men in masks and a naked woman: The...Care home orders grieving daughter to pay ?3,000...Group of 11 men 'plied girls of 13 with drink and drugs to...Oops, I said the C-word! 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Come on you Blues! - ronnie, what used to be England, 21/2/2012 22:04 Click to rate  Rating (0)Report abuse Thank you Cavani for tearing the plastics a new one. And for my tidy bundle of lolly. The plastics know the (inflated) price of everything and the value of nothing. Good job. - del, london, 21/2/2012 22:04 Click to rate  Rating (0)Report abuse coming from an arsenal fan, well played to napoli, a deserved win and i think a contender this year, also, at least chelsea put up a fight, maybe they can make a comeback. but it was nice match to watch next to the real madrid tie with cska. - abdel, london, 21/2/2012 22:03 Click to rate  Rating (0)Report abuse I bet Torres is absolutely gutted he went to Chelsea....and I'm made up. : ) - BYRNSEY LAD, Deysie, 21/2/2012 22:03 Click to rate  Rating (0)Report abuse I said it a few days back, and I'll say it again. Chelsea need to have realistic ambitions at this point of time. A 3-1 defeat is not the worst result in the world. And Napoli showed that they don't have the best defence. There were moments where a Chelsea goal seemed inevitable. I still think this tie is wide open and Chelsea do have a chance of going through. Having said that, I feel the Chelsea defence is really really struggling. David Luiz, is in my opinion not a good central defender. He could maybe a great midfield player, but not a defender please. Overall, I think Chelsea should be quite content with the fact that they aren't comprehensively out of the Champions League yet. P.S - Brilliant game for Lavezzi and Cavani who in my opinion are two of the best players in the Italian League. - Vibhas, Mumbai, India, 21/2/2012 22:02 Click to rate  Rating (0)Report abuse AVB go now. You can't do this job. Go - robG, London Universe, 21/2/2012 22:02 Click to rate  Rating 2Report abuse Lucky to only be 3-1 down. Leaky, leaky defence, so unlike the Chelsea of old.....After being 0-1 up a few years ago Chelsea would never surrender the way they did tonight. - Mike, Adelaide, Australia, 21/2/2012 22:01 Click to rate  Rating 1Report abuse Good game. Napoli will fancy it at the Bridge, especially with their Counter-attack game and it should have been 4-1 tonight.Not balanced in the return, more in favour of Napoli. Chelsea will have a lot to do as I think Napoli will score in the return....but it's not over yet. - Lee, Bedford, 21/2/2012 21:59 Click to rate  Rating 1Report abuse SADNESS is all I can say, I really feel sorrow for my beloved Chelsea, AVB isn't the right man by starting with Bosingwa in left back, and playing stupid Maloda, sleepy Ramiries, oh God enough is enough!!! - Adam, Jordan, 21/2/2012 21:57 Click to rate  Rating 2Report abuse LOL! What has happened to defense in the EPL!? The Italian teams are making a mockery of the English teams. BTW, Arsenal have had something go right for them this year. They didn't overpay for an immensely overrated Gary Cahill. If he is part of the future defense for team England the national team will never win a thing. AVB and Chelsea have the same problem as Wenger's Arsenal: NOT ENOUGH good players. At least AVB can claim to have inherited most of them. Wenger has no such excuse. He picked every chump on the Arsenal roster. Will the EPL only get 3 teams for next year in the CL? With the way Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are playing it might save the EPL some embarrassment. - Doug, Warringtom, US, 21/2/2012 21:57 Click to rate  Rating 2Report abuse The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Add your commentName:Town & Country:Your name and location will appear next to your comment.You have 1000 characters left.Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our House Rules.I agree to the House RulesRemember me - this will save you having to type out your name and location when you next leave a comment.For information about privacy and cookies please read our Privacy Policy.TermsClearSubmit ContentBingSiteWebEnter search term:Search  TOP SPORT STORIESNapoli 3 Chelsea 1An Ezequiel Lavezzi double and Edinson Cavani's strike leaves Andre Villas-Boas fighting for his job after defeat in NaplesAt last! 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