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[Video Highlights & Ratings] Marseille 1-0 Chelsea: Ref blunders no excuse for Chelsea

Chelsea extended their dismal run of form last night as they crashed to defeat in their final Champions League group game against Marseille.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side put in a poor display in France as a late Brandao goal nine minutes from time condemned the Blues to a 1-0 defeat- the first time they have dropped points in this season’s European campaign.  It was on the whole a rather dull affair, with two teams that had ensured qualification from Group I before this fixture kicked off despite the desperate need for both teams to end their respective rotten run of results.

Marseille enjoyed the better of the chances, with ex-Man Utd defender Gabriel Heinze actually putting the ball in the net only for it to be chalked off for offside.  Chelsea had their own reasons to feel aggrieved with an officiating decision when Florent Malouda was brought down and had a penalty awarded, only for the referee to reverse his decision after consulting his linesman.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Chelsea again had a penalty claim rebuffed after Salomon Kalou was illegally brought down moments later.

Whilst the referees were clearly in no mood to help either side, Ancelotti must not let his side find excuses for what was a below par performance; in-keeping with their recent run of form.  Whilst Nicolas Anelka, Ashley Cole and John Obi Mikel were all rested, Chelsea still starred most of their ‘box-office players’.  Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and John Terry all started – unfortunately neither could really get their team started on the road to a result.

Marseille were enjoying more of the ball in the first half, and had chances to open the scoring through Mathieu Valbuena whose wicked long range effort beat Petr Cech but not the woodwork.  Valbuena suddenly grew larger than his stature would suggest, beating a towering Chelsea back line to win a Benoit Cheyrou cross with a header that went just wide.  Cheyrou himself also went close with a long range strike and with every effort on goal came a growing sense that the home side were on the brink of a breakthrough.

The goal finally came; however the breakthrough did not.  Heinze rose well to meet another Cheyrou delivery into the Chelsea area and the Argentinian saw his effort planted  firmly in Cech’s goal.  However the linesman judged the defender to have scored from an offside position and the goal was dismissed.  Replays show that Heinze was in fact level with Chelsea’s last man.

Then came the games second big talking point, and the starring roles were again awarded to the officials.  The referee awarded the away side a penalty after Souleymane Diawara hacked down a surging Malouda, only to go back on his decision after discussing the incident with his assistant.  Chelsea players were understandably in uproar and their tempers were only inflamed further when the officiating team poured more fuel over the fire by turning away protests for another penalty moments later.  Diawara returned to reprise his role in an almost identical incident, bringing down Salomon Kalou this time.

The referee blew his whistle to end the half and endured a barrage of protest from the Chelsea camp- led in force by Drogba.  The Ivorian was still remonstrating with the official as the second half commenced and if he had put half as much effort into trying to score as he did in his pursuit of an explanation then Chelsea may have walked away with at least a point.  As it was, he did not and they did not, and Drogba’s night went from bad to worse when he was substituted on the hour mark for Daniel Sturridge.  The fact that it was the home support and not the away fans that applauded his exit from the stage says much about his performance.

Marseille now put the Blues on the back foot, with numerous bodies being thrown in front of goalkeeper Cech in order to preserve their point.  But the spoils were ultimately given to the French who were only too happy to oblige from what was in the end a rather fortunate set of circumstances.

Defender Taiwo found himself with space after cutting into the Chelsea are from the left.  With a sight of goal the Nigerian swung a right boot at the ball, only to make awkward contact with the ball.  His scuffed shot then deflected off the unfortunate Ramires, taking the path of the ball straight to Brandao who steered the ball past Cech from close range.

The goal was seeped in good fortune for the victors and Chelsea will be upset that they were not given the opportunities from the spot to take the lead in this game.  Still, on the whole it was a desolate performance from Ancelotti’s team and will only worsen the mood with daunting fixtures against Tottenham, Arsenal and Man Utd to come.  It seems they’ll be needing a little bit more than just luck in order to buck this unfamiliar trend of results.

Player Ratings

Chelsea: Cech 5, Ferreira 4, Terry 6, Ivanovich 5, Bosingwa 5, Ramires 5, Essien 6, McEachran 5, Malouda 7, Drogba 5, Kalou 6

Marseille: Mandanda 6, Taiwo 7, Heinze 6, Diawara 6, Cheyrou 7, Kabore 7, N’Diaye, 6 Abriel 6, Valbuena 8, Brandao 8, Remy 7

Video Highlights

Where do Chelsea go from here?…What changes does Ancelotti need to make?…Whose not pulling their weight?…please leave your comments below…

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