Carbone exploits Chelsea's failings

Enigmatic Italian adds to Windass' first-half goal as Blues show old frailty away from home
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The Independent Online

This was a stunning way for Benito Carbone to begin his affair with Valley Parade, but that Chelsea were the victims was not entirely unexpected.

This was a stunning way for Benito Carbone to begin his affair with Valley Parade, but that Chelsea were the victims was not entirely unexpected.

Last season their Premiership ambitions dissolved at grounds such as these. They may have put five past Manchester United but they lost at Sheffield Wednesday, Watford and Derby, teams with the worst home records in the division.

John Major and David Mellor, two of the club's most prominent supporters, would have recognised the syndrome. It was like the Conservative Party making gains in the Glasgow shipyards and losing Tunbridge Wells. You have to win your bankers and once again Chelsea did not.

Gianluca Vialli arrived at the post-match press conference clutching a video of the game, although it contained little he did not already know. "It hurts me much more to lose here than at Manchester United or Arsenal," he said. "We knew we have to win at places like these if we are to contest the championship."

He said he hoped he would not be the only one to taste defeat here and if Carbone continues to dazzle, Vialli will be proved right. Chris Hutchings who played for Chelsea in the days when Stamford Bridge glitz came in the shape of Clive Walker, declined to pick out Carbone for individual praise, other than point out his "unpredictability", but Vialli was not so reticent.

"He was fantastic, the best player on the pitch," said the Chelsea manager of the one player who would demand a place in his team.

"He produced quality and quantity at the same time. Bradford have a much better side than they possessed last season. There is quality that was not there before."

Hutchings said Bradford now have "world-class players" although all the evidence last night suggested he should have used the singular.

Bradford have found a hero, a symbol of the glamour the Premiership is supposed to provide.

Dean Windass, who headed home Bradford's opener from a cross by of all people, Dan Petrescu whose goal salvaged a draw for Chelsea here last season, thought the pressure on Carbone might come later "when we lose two or three on the spin."

The cynics, reviled in this part of Yorkshire for suggesting that Carbone might be off at the first sign of struggle, would have taken comfort from the fact that Move It Removals sponsor his kit but from little else.

He attempted an outrageous shot from fully 30 yards, passed with a speed of thought perhaps a little too rapid for his team-mates, and, by heck, he even tackled back to dispossess Roberto Di Matteo.

Nevertheless, the occasion demanded a goal, which arrived after 74 minutes as Chelsea pressed forward in Vialli's words: "in too much of a hurry to play individual football." Windass, driving down the left, crossed for Carbone whose shot from 25 yards Ed de Goey allowed to slither through his gloves.

It was not the first time the Chelsea keeper had been embarrassed. In a three-minute period after the opening goal, his defence looked alarmingly jittery, letting Windass side-foot just wide while Emerson Thome, unaware De Goey had raced off his line, headed past his own keeper and watched it trickle inches past the post.

Franck Leboeuf, who had been expected to be forgiven and recalled by Vialli after his fierce criticism, but who in the event did not even make the bench, might have afforded himself a wry smile.

He would have been one of the very few at Stamford Bridge who had cause for satisfaction. In the second half, Chelsea oozed frustration, epitomised by the way Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who as a former Leeds striker was booed throughout, walked off to a chorus of "Are You Sutton In Disguise?"

Where Carbone was not involved, Bradford attempted to hang on to their lead by pure effort, a quality their captain and assistant manager, Stuart McCall has in abundance - shown by the way he literally threw himself at Mario Melchiot. Later Dennis Wise did something similar to Carbone and earned himself a yellow card which, if Graham Poll had been refereeing, might have been red.

The Bradford back four were never entirely convincing, and against footballers of this calibre you could not expect them to be, but the fact remains that Matt Clarke was required to make his first save in the 42nd minute. Later, he saw the ball dribble against his post but the more Chelsea stretched themselves in disorganised attacks, the more they wereexposed for Carbone's coup de grâce.

Chelsea seemed likeliest to score when Tore Andre Flo replaced Hasselbaink. He might have scored almost immediately when put through by Gustavo Poyet, but his shot crashed against Clarke's legs.

The Bradford keeper, who would have settled for conceding one goal against Liverpool and Chelsea, twice had his body bruised blocking shots from Gianfranco Zola; but last night the real hurt was all Chelsea's.

Bradford City: (4-4-2): Clarke; Petrescu (Ward, 76), Nolan, Wetherall, Atherton; McCall, O'Brien, Hopkin, Sharpe (Whalley, 78); Windass, Carbone (Myers, 88). Substitutes not used: Beagrie, Davison (gk).

Chelsea: (4-4-2): De Goey; Melchiot (Panucci, 62), Thome, Desailly, Babayaro (Harley, h-t); Wise, Di Matteo, Morris, Poyet; Hasselbaink (Flo, 55), Zola. Substitutes not used: Gudjohnsen, Cudicini (gk).

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn).

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