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Home Sport Football European

Roma run riot as sorry Chelsea pass up first chance to go through

AS Roma 3 Chelsea 0

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Chelsea crumbled as Roma moved to the top of Champions League Group C with a 3-0 victory at Stadio Olimpico last night.

Stephan El Shaarawy scored after 38 seconds and pounced on an Antonio Rudiger error to make it 2-0 after 36 minutes.

Diego Perotti struck a fine third after 63 minutes and there would be no Chelsea comeback this time as Roma moved on to eight points, one more than the Blues.

A win in Antonio Conte's first match in Italy as Blues boss would have seen Chelsea advance to the knockout stages.

Now Conte's men need points at Azerbaijan's Qarabag before the final group clash with Atletico Madrid.

Of more immediate priority is Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United.

N'Golo Kante was not risked here and how Chelsea missed him. He cannot be expected to solve all their problems, though.

Chelsea surrendered a 2-0 lead to trail 3-2 two weeks ago, only for Eden Hazard to equalise at home to Roma.

Another difficult night was in prospect when Aleksandar Kolarov and Edin Dzeko combined as the hosts took a first-minute lead.

Kolarov's cross from deep hit Dzeko on the back of the head and it fell kindly for El Shaarawy to strike a crisp shot into the net.

Hazard tried to rouse his team-mates. First he raced onto Cesc Fabregas' through pass, but Alessandro Florenzi did enough to put off the Belgian.

Hazard next jinked in from the left and fired a right-footed shot at Alisson Becker before turning on the edge of the box and striking straight at the goalkeeper.

Chelsea should have been level when Alvaro Morata lifted a gilt-edged chance over after Pedro's cross.

David Luiz misjudged a long ball to allow Dzeko through and was relieved to see Thibaut Courtois save from El Shaarawy.

But another error followed when former Roma defender Rudiger allowed Radja Nainggolan's cross to bounce and El Shaarawy held off Azpilicueta to prod in.

Gary Cahill was replaced by Willian 10 minutes into the second half and the decision to shift Pedro to right wing-back was exploited by Roma after Fabregas gave the ball away to Kolarov.

Kolarov fed Perotti, who danced by Pedro and struck a low shot under Courtois.

Perotti spurned an easy chance for his second and Courtois saved Nainggolan's shot before denying Kostas Manolas from point-blank range on a night Chelsea will want to forget.

Belfast Telegraph

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