Football: Vialli's bum note is sweet music for Chelsea

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The Independent Online
Slovan Bratislava 0 Chelsea 2

(Chelsea win 4-0 on aggregate)

Gianluca Vialli ensured Chelsea's place in the second round of the European Cup-Winners' Cup here last night with a bizarre goal early in the match to deflate a hitherto buoyant Slovan. His Italian team-mate, Roberto Di Matteo, sealed the tie with Chelsea's second goal on the hour.

Vialli - paired in attack with Tore Andre Flo as the Chelsea manager, Ruud Gullit, picked a side with more than half an eye on Sunday's visit to Liverpool - had initially suffered a bruising opening spell.

Chelsea had been less than impressive coming forward until the 29th minute, when the game turned on the strangest of defensive errors. Dan Petrescu found Di Matteo on the edge of the penalty area and the man who had scored Chelsea's first goal in the 2-0 home win over the Slovak side tried to force his way through. His path was blocked as the ball ricocheted off a defender into the path of the goalkeeper Miroslav Konig. Concerned that he could not handle the ball, Konig attempted a clearance, which he caught on the full.

Vialli, instinctively, turned his back on the ball which thumped him full square on the backside to rebound against the bar, down and over the line. Vialli's "cheeky" goal meant Slovan had to score four in the remaining hour to win the tie, a task the home side clearly felt was beyond them, and their efforts gradually waned.

Chelsea pressed on. In the 37th minute, Vialli's appeals for a penalty went unheeded when he tumbled under the challenge of Andras Kereszturi.

Ed De Goey was briefly called in to action, gathering a long-range effort from Jozef Muzlay.

The Nigerian international Celestine Babayaro, injured in a pre-season game after a pounds 2.25m transfer from Anderlecht, made his full debut and immediately made an impression, passing to Vialli as he stole into the area. Vialli's shot struck the inside of the post and rolled along the line only for the sweeper Robert Tomaschek to claw the ball away.

Di Matteo was booked two minutes later but on the hour the Italian was celebrating the second goal. Vialli's sweeping pass found Di Matteo at the far post and from the most acute of angles, Di Matteo squeezed the ball home.

Now Chelsea's hold on the game was complete as, first, Vialli shot wide after turning brilliantly and then Frank Leboeuf's free-kick was touched away by Konig. Flo raced on to a ball over a defence caught square in the 80th minute, only to be thwarted by a desperate covering tackle.

Slovan Bratislava: Konig; Gunda, Pecko, Tomaschek, Novak, Muzlay, Hornyak, Moder, Kereszturi, Borisenko, Pukalovic (Puchner, 65). Substitutes not used: Sobana, Hoger, Nagy, Bernady.

Chelsea: De Goey; Petrescu (Nicholls, 73), Leboeuf, Lambourde, Poyet (Babayaro, h-t), Vialli, Wise, Le Saux (Granville, 65), Di Matteo, Flo, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Clarke, M Hughes, Hitchcock, Zola.

Referee: A Hamer (Luxembourg).

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