• Champions League

Faulty Chelsea stunned by Basel

ESPN staff
September 18, 2013
Basel handed Chelsea their first home Champions League group stage defeat since October 2003 © Getty Images

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were beaten in their Champions League Group E opener 2-1 as Basel deservedly triumphed at Stamford Bridge.

Six years to the day since his most recent Champions League match as Chelsea boss, a draw with Rosenberg which marked the end of his first spell in charge, Mourinho suffered a second successive loss as the Swiss side claimed a first win in England at the 11th attempt. Goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller, after Oscar had put Chelsea in front, also saw Basel end Chelsea's 13-match unbeaten run at home in European competition.

The last time Chelsea lost a Champions League group match at Stamford Bridge was against Besiktas on October 1, 2003, and Basel thoroughly merited being the team who brought the near 10-year, 29-match run to an end.

Chelsea suffered the ignominy of becoming the first holders to exit the tournament at the group stage last term and Mourinho sought to temper expectations on the eve of the match by highlighting the youth in his squad with an egg metaphor which rekindled memories of his displeasure in September 2007.

But, despite his comments, the self-proclaimed Special One cannot have expected such a limp performance against a team dispatched 5-2 on aggregate in the Europa League semi-finals by Rafael Benitez's Chelsea earlier this year.

A glaze was brushed over a lacklustre opening 45 minutes when Oscar finished off a move which David Luiz started as Mourinho's men finally broke the Swiss resistance prior to the interval. Oscar hit the bar before Basel equalised with 19 minutes remaining through Salah, who scored on the May visit to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has no interest in playing in the Europa League, but Streller's header, capitalising on uncharacteristically poor defending at a corner, means a place in the second-tier continental competition could await the Blues unless they can revive their European ambitions. Next on October 1 Chelsea play Steaua Bucharest, who beat them in Romania earlier this year, before two matches with Schalke.

John Terry did not start the European Super Cup against Bayern Munich and dropped to the bench for the second continental clash of the season as Mourinho made five changes from the side which began the defeat at Everton, with Lampard named captain. Mourinho also opted not to field Juan Mata, the player of the year for the last two seasons again among the substitutes.

Chelsea, missing the guile of Mata, were unable to unlock the Swiss defence in a ponderous opening. Willian, on his debut following his summer signing from Anzhi Makhachkala, had some promising touches and an Oscar corner had Yann Sommer flapping, only for the goalkeeper to be granted a free-kick.

Chelsea's first real effort on goal came after 26 minutes, when Samuel Eto'o turned Fabian Schar and found Eden Hazard, who blasted over from the edge of the area.

Basel were playing with men behind the ball but fired a warning on the break when Salah cut inside and shot over. Perhaps growing in frustration at his team-mates' inability to find an opening, Luiz twice stepped into midfield with the ball at his feet, the second time leading to the opening goal.

Luiz, who scored in either leg of the sides' meeting earlier this year, found Lampard, who in turn fed Oscar. The Brazil forward's right-footed strike across goal nestled into the bottom corner to give the hosts a half-time advantage they barely deserved.

Oscar struck the bar with a curling effort early in the second period as Chelsea, prompted by Mourinho's interval intervention, began the second period with more purpose. Branislav Ivanovic headed straight at Sommer from a Lampard corner and Hazard drilled over when he should have hit the target after being found by Oscar.

Mourinho introduced Mata for Willian with 23 minutes remaining, but soon after Basel equalised. Gaps were appearing in the Blues' defence and Behrang Safari, wearing a head bandage following an earlier clash with Willian, found Streller with a diagonal pass and the target man laid the ball off for Salah to clinically net across goal.

Mourinho replaced Marco Van Ginkel and Lampard with John Obi Mikel and Demba Ba, the latter going up front alongside the ineffective Eto'o.

But Chelsea's pursuit of all three points left them exposed and Streller won a corner. From the set-piece Streller evaded the attentions of Eto'o and Gary Cahill to head substitute Matias Delgado's corner in at the near post. Petr Cech might have done better, too.

Marcelo Diaz had an effort blocked as Basel looked for a third, with Chelsea well beaten as their winless run was extended to four games.

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