Real Betis 1 Chelsea 0

Bad day for Mourinho as Chelsea flop and Wenger feud escalates
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The Independent Football

Beaten for the first time in 90 minutes this season, Mourinho's team are still the Premiership's invincibles and, at nine points clear in that league, are hardly at crisis point. But two defeats in six days is the kind of form that would have been considered unthinkable.

"The first-half performance was too bad to be true," Mourinho said. "Everything was bad, I can't find anything that was positive about that performance."

If the post-match analysis was not shattering enough, Mourinho also responded to Arsène Wenger on the Arsenal manager's comments yesterday that his opposite number had been "stupid" in the spat between the two that had ignited on Monday.

Then Mourinho had accused Wenger of being a "voyeur" who was obsessed with Chelsea; yesterday the Arsenal manager threatened legal action. By 10pm last night it was round three.

Mourinho said that he had a "file of 120 pages" of comments from Wenger about Chelsea and that his attitude was "enough is enough", or there would be fight - there are few signs now of either man backing down.

Back to the occasion of Chelsea's defeat to the team placed 17th in Spain's La Liga and Mourinho was disbelieving about his side's performance. "The drama is not the result, the drama is the way we played," he said. "It was too bad in every aspect of the game."

Although the Chelsea manager pointed out that his side could still top Champions' League Group G if they won their remaining games, they now trail Liverpool by three points and Betis are just one point behind. The match against the European champions at Stamford Bridge now has a significance that few expected after the two sides' impressive start to the Champions' League.

With only one draw to blemish their Premiership record, and a Carling Cup exit on penalties, the great Chelsea machine is not stalling yet. However, in the first half, in which Betis lost their striker Ricardo Oliveira and the centre-half Nano to injury but still dominated, it was hard not to sympathise with Mourinho's point of view that his team were malfunctioning. "Maybe the players thought this was the second leg match and we were already 4-0 up," he said, "because the attitude was too relaxed when we were playing for points."

He started with Eidur Gudjohnsen in attack and the striker clouted his only clear-cut chance of the first half over the bar when he was set free by John Terry's pass. Robben was even worse. He was lucky not to be substituted at half-time and when he was hauled off for Damien Duff on 64 minutes stalked down the tunnel with a member of the Chelsea staff in pursuit.

When the home team did finally break through on 27 minutes, however, it was a goal created and executed by their two substitutes. Paolo Castellini passed the ball through Chelsea to the replacement striker Dani, who lingered at the back post. William Gallas' ponderous efforts to make a tackle allowed Dani to prod the ball home.

Duff created the best Chelsea chance of the match on 74 minutes - a moment in which Mourinho's side could scarcely believe they had not scored. The cross from the left was just a toe's width from being turned in by Didier Drogba but, before it rolled out of play, was turned back into the area by Shaun Wright-Phillips. Michael Essien scooped his shot against the goalkeeper Pablo Contreras' right post and from there it rolled across the line, struck the opposite upright and came out.

The frustration at his team's progress took Mourinho to the edge of his technical area and, at one point, toe-to-toe with the match referee Alain Hamer, who sent him back to his bench when he queried a decision. The Chelsea coach was withering in his assessment of the official from Luxembourg, adding that an official from a country with "no record in international football" might not be fit to take control of the game.

The game only threatened to spiral out of control in the second half when Drogba challenged Contreras for a loose ball and stood chest-to-chest with the goalkeeper before shoves were exchanged. The dives and time-wasting of the Betis players were part "of the Latin culture", Mourinho said, although he had little sympathy for his players in falling for the familiar old tricks.

Drogba and Wright-Phillips were on as half-time substitutes and the England winger's booking means he misses the game against Anderlecht. Drogba was booked and there was the hint of racist chants from the crowd.

There is hope at last for Manchester United on Sunday - how Chelsea respond could define the season.

Real Betis (4-4-2): Contreras; Varela, Juanito, Nano (Castellini, 20), Melli; Joaquin, Arzu, Rivera, Edu; Capi (Fernando, 83), Oliveira (Dani, 24). Substitutes not used: Doblas (gk), Xisco, Juanlu, Bascon.

Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Gallas; Makelele; Cole (Wright-Phillips, h-t), Lampard, Essien, Robben (Duff, 65); Gudjohnsen (Drogba, h-t). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Geremi, Bridge, Huth.

Referee: A Hamer (Luxembourg).