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Marseille 1 - 0 Chelsea

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Marseille 1 - 0 Chelsea

Post by nirvana on Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:05 pm

Marseille 1 - 0 Chelsea
Florent Malouda
Florent Malouda is sent flying by Souleymane Diawara's foul in the penalty area

By Sam Lyon

Chelsea's poor run of form continued as Brandao's late strike handed Marseille a narrow win in their Champions League final Group F game in France.

Brandao tapped in after Taye Taiwo's shot was deflected into the Brazilian's path to secure a deserved home win.

It ended Chelsea's hopes of earning six group wins out of six, though they will argue they were denied two penalties.

Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou were fouled by Souleymane Diawara in the first half, but he escaped punishment.

Chelsea's 2-1 win over MSK Zilina a fortnight ago had guaranteed they would top the section, but this was not a Marseille victory inflicted upon a Blues team with their foot off the pedal.

Carlo Ancelotti had spoken before the match of the need for a good performance on the back of a worrying run of form, and a strong starting XI underlined the Italian's desire to get a positive performance and result out of the match.

The Italian's desires went unfulfilled, though, as the Blues stuttered, coughed and stumbled their way through a largely uninspiring and ultimately toothless display.

It comes on the back of a run of results that has seen them secure just one league win in six and prompted their fall from first to third place in the Premier League.

And if Chelsea were hoping to meet a half-hearted Marseille - given the French side had guaranteed their own progression a fortnight ago as well - again they were to be disappointed.

Like the Blues, Marseille have been off form of late, having fallen to fourth in France's Ligue 1 with just a point from their last two matches.

606: DEBATE
Quite embarrassing to see that we didnt make Mandanda break a sweat tonight. Poor game from us

Inter Forlan

So, while some might have expected both sides to take this dead rubber lightly, instead both Ancelotti and home boss Didier Deschamps entered the contest desperate for a morale-boosting win that might reignite their side's season.

That was underlined by Ancelotti's selection, with the likes of John Terry, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba all starting.

But it was Marseille who edged an entertaining first half.

Benoit Cheyrou had already sent a dipping shot wide from range when Matheiu Valbuena rattled the crossbar with a wicked 22-yard effort - and Marseille's diminutive playmaker then sent an unmarked diving header wide.

Loic Remy also shot off-target from range, while Gabriel Heinze will count himself a touch unlucky that his header home from Cheyrou's free-kick was ruled out for offside - replays suggested the former Manchester United man was level.

Still, despite those scares, Chelsea could have entered the break ahead had they not had two strong penalty appeals turned down.

Initially referee Vladislav Bezborov awarded a spot-kick when Diawara felled Malouda - only to then change his mind on the advice of his linesman - and the Russian referee then waved away Chelsea's appeals for a second time when Kalou was brought down by Diawara later in the half.

Both should have been given, and Drogba was still remonstrating with the Russian officials as the second half got back under way.

It was about as big an impact as the Ivorian had on the whole match in reality, though his long-awaited return to the club he describes as "home" did at least end in a heartfelt standing ovation from the home fans when he was withdrawn on the hour.

That Valbuena - by far Marseille's most potent weapon before that - was substituted at the same time said much for both sides' ever decreasing ambition, or at least attacking quality, in the second half.

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic had to produce a fine block on the stretch to clear Fabrice Abriel's snap-shot from inside the area, while a Taiwo long-ranger was deflected narrowly past Petr Cech's upright by Terry soon after.

But just as it looked like the Blues would emerge with a clean sheet and a point, which in itself would have been some comfort given their struggles of late, up popped Brandao with nine minutes remaining to secure the win for Marseille.

It means Chelsea enter what promises to be a crucial stage in their bid to retain the Premier League trophy - Ancelotti's side play Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday ahead of matches against Manchester United and Arsenal - still desperately short of form and confidence.

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