Lavezzi brace sets scene for English sunset
Chelsea's Champions League hopes are in the balance following a 3-1 loss to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday, after Real Madrid were pegged back by a 93rd-minute equaliser at CSKA Moscow.Updated: Feb 23, 2012 01:19 IST
Chelsea's Champions League hopes are in the balance following a 3-1 loss to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday, after Real Madrid were pegged back by a 93rd-minute equaliser at CSKA Moscow.
Chelsea took the lead through Juan Mata at Napoli's Stadio San Paolo but a brace from the excellent Ezequiel Lavezzi and another goal from Edinson Cavani turned the tie in the Italian side's favour ahead of the second leg on March 14.Coupled with Arsenal's 4-0 loss at AC Milan and early exits for Manchester United and Manchester City, Chelsea's defeat raises the prospect of the quarterfinals being devoid of English teams for the first time since 1996.
Villas-Boas started with Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien on the bench and his side quickly found themselves on the back foot, with Petr Cech saving sharply from Cavani and Christian Maggio early on.
After Mata capitalised on Paolo Cannavaro's miscued clearance to place a cool volley past Morgan De Sanctis in the 27th minute.
Lavezzi equalised in the 38th minute by bending a low shot around Cech from the edge of the box and in first-half injury time, Cavani stole in front of Branislav Ivanovic to divert Gokhan Inler's cross into the roof of the net with his shoulder.
Lavezzi scored in the 65th-minute, tucking the ball into an unguarded goal after Cavani had blocked David Luiz's weak attempted clearance.
Real held at Moscow
Real Madrid remain favourites to reach the quarters despite Swedish debutant Pontus Wernbloom from AZ Alkmaar rescuing a 1-1 draw for CSKA with an injury-time equaliser, the last kick of the match, at a sub-zero Luzhniki Stadium.
Mourinho's side lost Karim Benzema to injury after just 15 minutes but in the 28th minute, Fabio Coentrao's cross was allowed to reach the back post and Cristiano Ronaldo pounced to drill a left-footed strike past Sergei Chepchugov. The return leg will be played on March 14.
First Published: Feb 22, 2012 15:00 IST