Napoli take control of tie with Chelsea
Napoli 3-1 Chelsea
Two quick-fire first half goals for Napoli, and another in the second period saw the Italian underdogs come from behind to take a two goal lead into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Juan Mata had put Chelsea in a commanding position, opening the scoring on 27 minutes.
However, goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani late into the first half, and another from Lavezzi, meant the Italian side kept up their record of not losing to an English side on home soil.
It means the denigration Andre Villas-Boas has received in recent weeks will no doubt continue, with little of the English viewers giving his team any hope of overturning the deficit and going through.
Chelsea’s issues began even before the start with John Terry made unavailable for the game, whilst Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres only made the bench in what was one of the manager’s most crucial team selections.
It were the hosts who looked the brighter side at the start of the game, with Walter Mazzarri’s men looking very effective going forward with pace and fluency. However for all the pretty football, it proved to be ineffective as it was the London outfit who took the lead.
Spaniard Juan Mata opened the scoring when he made the most of Paolo Cannavaro’s mistake. The defender mis-kicked his clearance after good work from the Chelsea attack of Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge, before Mata side-footed the ball home.
David Luiz should have made it 2-0 with a header, however minutes later, Lavezzi brought Napoli back into the game. The Argentine sending an unstoppable shot past Petr Cech to send the home crowd wild.
And as half time approached, the Italians completed their turn around.
Branislav Ivanovic reacted the slowest before poacher, Cavani, helped divert the ball past Cech from close range.
Half time came at a good time for the visitors.
With the press back in England surrounding AVB and his future ready to criticise the Portuguese’s tactics and team choice, it took the complacency of one David Luiz to stab the media’s pen through Chelsea hearts even more.
Luiz’s poor defending, led to Napoli’s third, which Lavezzi scored with a relative ease.
Chelsea’s defending must improve in time for the second leg should they wish to progress through to the last eight of the Champions League, however, with the attacking qualities the Naples’ club possesses in the shape of Cavani, Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, it is easier said than done.
However, a saving grace is the away goal they managed at Stadio San Paolo, meaning a 2-0 win at the Bridge, will take them through.