Battle At The Bridge Ends In Stalemate
Chelsea came up against Roma in the 3rd round of matches in this seasons Champions League group stages. Having won their first two encounters at home to Qarabag and impressively away at Atletico Madrid, a win against the Italians would seal the Blues qualification for the knockout stages.
That qualification possibility coming courtesy of Qarabag, who held Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan. Chelsea got themselves off to a flyer when David Luiz, playing in midfield, tried to play in Alvaro Morata, but the ball didn`t find the Spaniard. A poor clearance by the Roma defence though, and the ball found it`s way back to the fuzzy haired Brazilian, who deftly side footed the ball past the diving keeper, from the edge of the penalty area.
Roma dominated the ball for long periods of the half, only poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois kept Chelsea ahead. At times Chelsea looked off the pace and dysfunctional as a team. As ever though, they managed to muddle through. On the sidelines Antonio Conte was clearly up for the fight, a collision with Roma`s Maxime Gonalons, as the midfielder scrambled to prevent the ball going out, riled the him. With Carlo Ancelotti watching from the stands, Conte was under added pressure
Despite Roma`s dominance on the ball, Chelsea were always dangerous on the break, something that was ably demonstrated mid way through the half. Alvaro Morata, back from injury, broke and clipped the ball over to Eden Hazard, who fired Chelsea 2-0 ahead.
The lead didn`t last long though, as Roma kept pressing and forcing Chelsea back. Aleksander Kolarov fired the Italian side back into the game via a deflection off Andreas Christensen as he tried to block the shot. Chelsea made it to half time holding onto their slender lead.
There was no let up in the application of both teams as the game entered the second period. This game was not for the faint hearted, every attack looked as though it would result in a goal. For the neutral it was a game made in heaven. None of the anti-climax that the weekend`s Premier League encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United produced. This was pure blood and thunder. It wasn`t nasty though, there just one booking in the whole game, Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Roma kept the pressure on Chelsea, to see if they would crack. They did. Roma equalised through Edin Dzeko with a goal, that even for the most partizan Chelsea fan, has to be considered world class. A long ball was floated across to the left side of the penalty area, Dzeko watched it, before volleying the ball over Courtois, who had no chance. Just six minutes later, the ex-Manchester City striker headed his side in front, from a free kick, it was just a touch, but enough to see the ball past Courtois.
To Chelsea`s credit, they didn`t fold and a well directed header by Eden Hazard from Pedro`s cross brought Chelsea level. 3-3 was probably a justified result, as neither team deserved to lose.
Pedro`s assist was vindication for Antonio Conte who had taken David Luiz off early in the second half and brought the Spaniard on in his place. Luiz was not in the least bit happy with his manager and showed a degree on dissent when his number was up.
With the group stages halfway through Chelsea are looking comfortable in terms of qualification. Next up in the Champions League is the return fixture in Rome, in two weeks time. If it has half the action of this evening`s game, it`ll be a treat.
Next up in the league, is a home game against Watford, who must have been loving the runaround that Roma were giving their opponents ahead of the weekend fixture.