Battling Betis sink Blues
By Mark Buckingham. Last Updated: 01/11/05 9:35pm
Chelsea continue to stutter on their European travels after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Real Betis in the UEFA Champions League.
Betis substitute Dani poached the only goal just before the half hour mark to leave Chelsea without an away win in Europe in the past 12 months.
In truth, The Blues deserved little from the game after producing a ragged performance in Seville, with the result having a galvanising effect on Betis in their bid to pip Jose Mourinho's men for qualification from Group G.
The first half was a largely tepid affair with Betis forced into two substitutions by the 24th minute, as Paolo Castellini came on for Nano and Dani replaced Ricardo Oliveira, who appeared to suffer a serious knee injury.
The two substitutes combined for the first chance of the game on 28 minutes and it brought with it the opening goal.
Castellini played a low pass into the box from the left, Edu's dummy rendered a slipshod Chelsea defence even more helpless and Dani held off a challenge from William Gallas to tuck the ball into the corner.
Chelsea's Spanish siesta appeared to have extended well into the evening and it was only in the closing six minutes of the half that they awoke from a dreary slumber.
A superb pass slipped inside the full back by Eidur Gudjohnsen sent Joe Cole, who looked offside, into space but the England international's low shot was stopped by Pedro Contreras.
Arjen Robben struck a thumping volley at Contreras before Gudjohnsen wasted the visitors' only clear-cut opening of the first period.
John Terry's raking long pass from the back sent the Icelandic ace scampering clear but Gudjohnsen lacked his customary composure and lofted his shot over the bar with only Contreras to beat.
The Blues were then lucky not to head into the break two goals adrift as Petr Cech dealt horribly with Edu's swerving shot, palming the ball into the path of the unmarked Dani but the Betis striker scuffed his effort wide when he should have been celebrating a second goal of the night.
An unhappy Mourinho made two changes at half time as he introduced Didier Drogba and Shaun Wright-Phillips for Gudjohnsen and Cole.
The substitutions injected an immediate sense of urgency into the Premiership champions' play and they could have been level within 60 seconds of the restart as Contreras came racing out of his goal to deny a previously subdued Frank Lampard.
With 25 minutes remaining, Mourinho gambled on Damien Duff's fitness by replacing Robben but Chelsea's frustration at failing to test Betis boiled over when Drogba was booked for kicking out at Melli.
But that was a prelude to an agonising near miss for Chelsea on 72 minutes when both posts came to Betis' rescue. Duff's cross eluded the lurking Drogba but Wright-Phillips kept the ball alive by turning it back into the centre of the penalty area.
Michael Essien failed to connect with his left leg, but swung a right boot at the ball, only to see his shot crash off one post, trickle along the line and hit the other upright before bouncing kindly in to the arms of Contreras.
In desperation, Mourinho flung Terry into the attack but the tactical decision reaped no reward as Betis hung on for a win which puts them on the coat-tails of Chelsea and exacts a modicum of revenge for their 4-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.
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|Real Betis||Team Statistics||Chelsea|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|1||Shots off Target||5|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 1st Nov - Group H
Artmedia Bratis2 - 2Rangers
Inter2 - 1FC Porto
Tue 1st Nov - Group F
Olympiakos1 - 4Lyon
Rosenborg0 - 2R Madrid
Tue 1st Nov - Group E
Schalke2 - 0Fenerbahce
PSV1 - 0AC Milan
Tue 1st Nov - Group G
Liverpool3 - 0Anderlecht
Real Betis1 - 0Chelsea
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H