Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Chelsea – Last-gasp winner puts Champions League chances in doubt

Bayer Leverkusen 2
Derdiyok 72, Friedrich 90+1

Chelsea 1
Drogba 48

A late sucker punch from Manuel Friedrich left Andre Villas Boas reeling as Bayer Leverkusen came from behind to beat Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League clash, a result which sent the German side through, and left the Blues facing a winner takes all clash against Valencia in two weeks’ time. Once again it was defensive frailties which undid Chelsea, with both goals easily preventable as costly individual errors undid a professional performance.

Chelsea lined up in their usual variation on the 4-3-3 system, although there was an unforeseen change to the back four, with Ashley Cole ruled out with an ankle injury. This saw Jose Bosingwa slot in at left back. Branislav Ivanovic was on the opposite flank with John Terry partnered by David Luiz. John Obi Mikkel paid for his error in Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool with his place as Raul Meireles stepped into the holding role, with Ramires and Frank Lampard given licence to go forward. Up front Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata flanked Didier Drogba, with Fernando Torres having to watch from the bench.

Bayer Leverkusen set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation. In front of the back four they deployed two holding midfielders, Lars Bender and Simon Rolfe. This allowed form Chelsea favourite Michael Ballack to support striker Stefan Kiessling with width provided by Sidney Sam and Gonzalo Castro.

The opening 35 minutes was a sterile affair as both teams seemed reluctant to commit too many players to the attack. For Chelsea, the hold-up play of Drogba was disappointing, not allowing his team mates to get into the action with possession lost frequently. The same problem affected Leverkusen offering spectators a scrappy spectacle. However the closing moments of the half saw Chelsea begin to gain the upper hand, and they at least made goalkeeper Bernd Leno work, although not too hard, as he was forced into three comfortable saves. At the other end there were warning signs of Chelsea’s frailties at set pieces as Ballack hit the bar with a header from a corner.

Chelsea started the second half on the front foot and took the lead on 48 minutes. A lovely flighted ball by Sturridge was collected inside the box by Drogba, who held off two Leverkusen defenders before sliding an effort past Leno and in off the far post. It was a superb goal and silenced the noisy German crowd.

Leverkusen fought back quickly; Ballack again denied this time by a fine sprawling block by Cech as the veteran midfielder spun quickly to volley from 8 yards as Chelsea again failed to clear a corner.

As the clock ticked on it looked as though Chelsea would earn the win which would take them through, although they never looked like grabbing a second goal. Leverkusen changed their system to a 4-3-3 bringing on two extra strikers and one of them struck an equaliser with his first touch.

Swiss international Eren Derdiyok headed the Germans level on 72 minutes after an awful mistake by Ivanovic allowed Sam to gallop unchecked into the Chelsea box, before cleverly picking out Derdiyok with a lofted chip over the onrushing Cech.

With the game drifting to a draw which would have suited both sides, Leverkusen delivered the knockout blow. Castro’s corner in the first minute of stoppage time was met by a powerful header by Manuel Friedrich, which Cech inexplicably allowed to sail into the net, the keeper appearing to pull his hand away from the ball rather than tip it over.

Leverkusen (4-2-3-1): Leno; Schwaab (Schurrle 56), Friedrich, Topak, Kadlec (Derdiyok 71); Bender, Rolfes; Castro, Ballack, Sam; Kissling (Oczipka 81)

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, David Luiz (Alex 69), Boswinga; Meireles (Mikkel 80), Lampard, Ramires; Sturridge, Mata (Malouda 65), Drogba

Did you know…Chelsea have won just once in 6 visits to Germany in UEFA Champions League football, a second round win over Stuttgart in 2004

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