A black, black night for
Chelsea against the Black Eagles of Istanbul has brought
only our second ever defeat at home in European competition
- and we cannot say it wasnt deserved. With only
two Chelsea shots on target all night, a lifeless display
was shot down by two goals from international striker
The main damage was done in a first-half
which started to go wrong from the 22 minute when Claudio
Ranieri was forced to make an unforeseen change.
Celestine Babayaro, who had started
at left wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation, appeared to
be struck by a groin strain and was replaced by Wayne
Bridge, though that was looking but a minor hiccup just
two minutes later when Chelsea fell behind.
Ilhan Mansiz shaped to shoot from a
free-kick but with Chelsea slack in marking-up, the
ball was played down the left flank for Ibrahim who
crossed for Sergen Yalcin to poke the ball in via a
deflection off John Terry.
It took just four minutes for the deficit
to double and it was horrible to watch. A simple long
punt down field reached the opening scorer with a back-tracking
Desailly stumbling in his wake and when Cudicinis
rescue sprint overshot its target, the Turkish target
man didnt waste the gift.
Chelsea hopes of a Champions League
cruise to the knockout stages were beginning to shred
in front of our eyes.
We were only putting the visitors
goal under threat in fitful bursts. The Argentinian
combo of Crespo and Veron had been the first to show,
Crespo bursting through and shooting over in the opening
minutes while Veron scuffed a shot when well placed
after an exchange of passes with his compatriot had
taken him into the box.
Lampards driving runs through
midfield looked Chelseas most potent weapon while
Mutu occasional threatened to conjure up something.
As half-time approached, the best flowing
move of the half started with Crespo neatly backheeling
to Bridge who crossed. The ball flicked off the head
of Mutu but agonisingly just too far behind Lampard
to get a proper shot away.
Veron tried his luck from distance and
Mutu and Geremi both had efforts blocked but still the
keeper was yet taste to turf.
Ranieri was unlikely to let this state
of affairs continue without redeploying his troops and
at half-time he withdrew both Crespo and Mutu, replacing
them with Duff and Hasselbaink.
This meant a change in shape with the
defence now becoming four and Geremi and Duff pushing
forward on the flanks to support Hasselbaink.
What it also meant was that Chelsea
had no more substitutions in the locker and therefore
were vulnerable to further injury. The gods chose to
frown down on us within minutes of the change when Gallas
injured a leg in a challenge.
He continued on hobbling but the game
was now effectively eleven against ten-and-a-half. That
was until six minutes into the half when the balance
swung back our way.
Ilhan Mansiz, the golden pretty boy
of Turkish football suddenly turned all tarnished and
ugly when he chipped the ball over Cudicini and into
the net after the referee had halted the game due to
an offside flag.
Having done similar just before the
break and seen a yellow card then, this moment of imbecilic
irresponsibility must be the stuff that turns managers
grey as the game became ten-and-a-half versus ten.
It was a boost to morale but the problem
remained that our numerical advantage was against a
side who already enjoyed the insurance of a healthy
lead. We still needed to find someway of penetrating
the defending Turks.
This Besiktas side may not have the
greatest record on their European travels but it was
clear for all to see they were determined and skilled.
The game failed to turn into the siege the Chelsea fans
were willing on but there were chances.
With 57 minutes gone, Lampard surged
once again down the flank and crossed excellently with
his left-foot but Veron, rising at the far-post, headed
off target. Then Frank volleyed disappointingly as the
ball bounced around the area.
The task was made all the more difficult
when following two quick succession tackles, Gallas
hobble began to resemble Long John Silver. He was persuaded
to continue but could only supply nuisance value up
Understandably the performance became
ever more fragmented and shapeless with almost all attacks
sent down the left through Bridge.
He hung over a succession of crosses
but to the best, Hasselbaink could only stoop and head
against an opponent. Then Duff saw a shot blocked.
Besiktas limited attacking intentions
by this stage were as predictable as their time-wasting
although they were clearly not attacking under managerial
instruction. Their Romanian boss man, Mircea Lucescu,
almost did his nut as he saw two of his charges booked
for their slow march to the dug-outs when substituted.
With other similar cards following,
might there be a price to pay in suspensions when these
two teams meet in the final group game?
Into the last ten minutes, Geremi curled
a free-kick several yards wide and Hasselbaink repeated
the feat from further out with two minutes of normal
time remaining, but we could do nothing to suppress
the vociferous visiting fans celebrations. Their own
rendering of Kalinka at the end only emphasised
In this seasons European campaign,
there is now some serious work to do.