Football: Ilic errs in the survival game

Charlton Athletic 0

Chelsea 1

Di Matteo 11

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 20,046

CHELSEA HAVE lost only three games all season in the Premiership while Charlton have only won three games this year, which goes a long way to explaining why Chelsea are challenging for the title while Charlton are involved in the thick of the relegation struggle.

Yet despite their positions at opposite ends of the table, such a gulf between the two teams was not obvious for most of this game, which was so vibrant at first but sadly petered out after Roberto Di Matteo's 11th- minute goal, the result of an error by the Charlton goalkeeper, Sasa Ilic. Such was the way the game fell away that the tally of substitutions and bookings in the second half alone outweighed the shots on goal by three to one.

With the amount of games remaining diminishing fast for Charlton, and their Premiership survival in ever more peril with each passing week, the need for at least a point even from matches as hard as this is pressing for Alan Curbishley's team. Yet the fact that they failed to get a meaningful shot on target when they threw everything forward in a desperate search for an equaliser said plenty about the resolute nature of Chelsea's defending but even more about where Charlton's problems lie. As a subdued Curbishley stated afterwards: "We need to score goals and start winning some games."

The goal that could prove so crucial to both sides' fortunes at the end of the season came as Albert Ferrer chipped a harmless-looking ball into the Charlton area and Ilic charged off his line. The Yugoslav, wearing a black armband to mark the conflict in his homeland, failed to reach the ball and Carl Tiler headed clear only as far as Di Matteo, who sent his volley down into the ground and past the hapless Ilic. Curbishley called Ilic's rush of blood a "howler" and added: "You can't keep doing that."

To rub it in for Curbishley, Ilic's counterpart, Ed De Goey, then made an equally bad mistake two minutes later when he failed to control a back- pass by his goal-line and let in the alert Martin Pringle. The Swede knocked the ball past De Goey only to see Marcel Desailly, in commanding form, clear off the goal-line.

Yet Charlton, who remain one off the bottom with this result, could have stolen an early lead when, with nine minutes gone, Desailly made a rare mistake as he failed to control a ball, sending it into the air. But Clive Mendonca's header lacked power and De Goey, replaced by Kevin Hitchcock at half-time because of flu, punched over.

However, Hitchcock's goalmouth remained a relatively suspense-free zone despite Charlton having the majority of possession in the second half, and the best chance the home side could muster came after 60 minutes when the debutant and record signing Graham Stuart headed just wide against his former team from Mark Kinsella's inswinging corner.

As Charlton poured forward, Chelsea were happy to get in some practice for their European Cup-Winner's Cup semi-final on Thursday, as they soaked up the pressure and looked for counter-attacks. Their manager, Gianluca Vialli, who refused to admit his side were still contenders to win the league, felt they should have wrapped things up as Tore Andre Flo and Dennis Wise had chances in the dying minutes. But while Ilic atoned in part for his earlier error with two fine saves, by then the damage had been done for Curbishley's Charlton.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Hourly Paid Teachers

£20 - £25 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curren...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits