Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mourinho's meek and mild Blues sneak through

BASEL 1 CHELSEA 0

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Jason Burt

This was a chop that Jose Mourinho did not expect. Having taken the clippers to his locks, with that new cropped haircut, he watched as Chelsea were shorn. Cut down, in fact.

Mohamed Salah scored the only goal, running on to a long punt by Fabian Schär finally to beat Petr Cech and consign Chelsea to a deserved Champions League defeat.

Mourinho had demanded bravehearts. But Chelsea were meek and mild and did not even summon a shot. On target or otherwise.

It meant the Swiss champions beat Chelsea home and away and ended Mourinho's hopes of winning Group E early even if they are still through to the last 16.

Early on Petr Cech had pushed over a fierce snapshot by Salah who was also denied by Gary Cahill's last-ditch tackle as he prepared to pull the trigger after another dangerous run.

John Terry had set the tone by needlessly conceding a free-kick in the opening two minutes. It was whipped in by Taulant Xhaka and Cech seemed to see it late before scooping the ball away.

DANGEROUS

Cahill then cut out a dangerous low Salah cross, ahead of Marco Streller, while Cech also intervened, just pushing the ball away from the Basel captain as he rushed in to try and reach the goalkeeper's parry from a deflected Fabian Frei effort.

There were appeals for a penalty -- after the ball bounced up and struck Lampard's hand as another corner was dealt with poorly -- but they were waved away by referee Stéphane Lannoy and the pressure continued.

Chelsea eked out one half-chance in the first half through Samuel Eto'o, but he narrowly missed.

Inevitably there was more Chelsea urgency after the break. Basel had expended so much energy but had not scored and Mourinho had clearly demanded a response even if Valentin Stocker should have done better than head weakly at Cech from a free-kick as chances became a premium and the intensity of the contest began to dampen down.

That suited Chelsea, who began to enjoy more parity in possession without being hurtful as attacks broke down without threatening the Basel goal.

There were claims for a penalty as Ivanovic was bundled over but Basel broke immediately only for Die's volley, from outside the area, to slide past the post with Cech stretching.

But Basel would not be denied. The goal was route one -- a long ball and Chelsea were caught out with Salah too quick and direct. Mourinho stood as motionless as Cech.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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