Deco walks as Chelsea retreat in face of Roman onslaught

AS Roma 3 Chelsea 1

Two defeats in four games? It is not a crisis at Chelsea but it is suddenly a lot less comfortable. A late afternoon deluge had put this game in serious doubt and then Chelsea's Champions League hopes also took a severe dousing as they succumbed – capitulated more like – to a resurgent Roma to leave qualification in the balance. To add insult they also had Deco sent off – his second caution coming, somewhat ridiculously, for taking a free-kick too quickly.

Their manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said the decision would never have been made against a Roma player but it wasn't the only act of madness. "Crazy," Scolari said of his team's display and their defending. "We didn't play very well. We made mistakes in critical times and they [Roma] killed us. Today we lost the ball and gave them chances to score. In other games we haven't made those mistakes. I'm not going to change everything about what I think after one game." As for qualification, Scolari added: "For the group, it's open. For all. We have seven points, but if you're thinking about the points, if we win one game, we are there. We need three points."

Chelsea still top Group A and still head the Premier League but it was the manner of the defeat, their heaviest in almost three years, which shocked so many, including, clearly, Scolari. Once behind, Chelsea folded in an alarming way that has not been witnessed before. They were pale, anonymous, naive at times. Beating Sunderland out of sight, and Hull City, is one thing, losing to Liverpool and, more so, Roma quite another.

The final is here, in this city, next May. It felt a distant prospect on last night's performance and for all the aesthetic pleasure and fun that Scolari has brought, for all the joyful football , he needs to also rediscover that mechanical edge.

He cut a frustrated figure. In the first half he urged more from his team – it all appeared a breeze against a Roma side shell-shocked by five consecutive defeats and their worst start to a season for 45 years – while in the second he stood motionless.

His substitutions did not work while the paucity of Nicolas Anelka's performance, and the lack of impact made by Didier Drogba, only highlighted further Chelsea's need for a new striker. A day after lauding the solidity of his defence, Scolari watched in horror as they gifted goals and John Obi Mikel had the kind of horrific evening that scars. At the end the Chelsea players trooped off quickly – apart from John Terry, who stood staring at the turf on the final whistle, his face frozen in frustration.

But how did it come to this? For half an hour it had been so, so easy. The only bang from Roma came from the cannon-like crackers that were tossed from the Curva Sud, the one bank of this cavernous arena that was just about full. A couple of long-range efforts whistled wide from Deco and Frank Lampard – forcing saves from Doni – and a goal seemed an inevitability if Chelsea simply raised the tempo a notch more.

They did not. Scolari detected the danger signs and suddenly appeared a more agitated presence. His body language spoke of exasperation and that exploded when Mikel miscontrolled, and allowed the ball to run to Francesco Totti who was then up-ended by Deco who earned his first yellow card. From the free-kick, Wayne Bridge neglected to cover Cicinho and he crossed low. The errors mounted as Alex and Terry stood rooted, allowing Christian Panucci, a former Chelsea player, to slip through and side-foot home.

It was a poor goal to concede and even poorer given how tamely Roma had performed up until then. It was also the first goal surrendered by Chelsea in this competition this season. Scolari had hailed his defence. Now it had let him down. The goal meant one more thing. Roma's confidence returned.

Scolari had seen enough. Off came both wide players – on came Drogba, as one of the replacements. However, just three minutes after the re-start, Roma struck again. And this time Cech appeared to be at fault as Matteo Brighi teed up Mirko Vucinic whose shot was fierce but perhaps should have been covered by the goalkeeper. Instead it rippled the net from 25 yards. Once more Mikel dangerously surrendered possession – this time to Vucinic who ran on the midfielder's despairing lunge and then prodded a shot past Cech to cause mayhem, with Luciano Spalletti, the Roma coach who has been under so much pressure, throwing himself on top of a huddle of players piled on the turf.

Everyone was stunned. And then there was a lifeline as Terry deflected Deco's shot, Doni parried but, with Roma appealing for offside, the rebound fell to the Chelsea captain who bundled it in. Chelsea pushed on but there was no real hope while Cech had to throw himself to deny Vucinic a hat-trick. Was Terry injured at the end, Scolari was asked? "He's angry, nothing more," came the reply. He wasn't the only one.

AS Roma (4-4-2): Doni; Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Panucci; Perrotta (Taddei, 72), De Rossi, Pizarro, Brighi; Vucinic (Riise, 88), Totti (Baptista, 61). Substitutes not used: Artur (gk), Loria, Tonetto, Menez.

Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Kalou, 63), Alex, Terry, Bridge; Mikel; J Cole (Belletti, 46), Deco, Lampard, Malouda (Drogba, 46); Anelka. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Ivanovic, Di Santo, Ferreira.

Referee: L Medina Cantalejo (Spain).

Group A

Results: Chelsea 4 Bordeaux 0; Roma 1 CFR Cluj 2; CFR Cluj 0 Chelsea 0; Bordeaux 1 Roma 3; Bordeaux 1 CFR Cluj 0; Chelsea 1 Roma 0; Roma 3 Chelsea 1; CFR Cluj 1 Bordeaux 2

Chelsea's remaining group stage fixtures: 26 Nov: Bordeaux (a); 9 Dec: CFR Cluj-Napoca (h).

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week