Calamitous Chelsea smashed 3-0 by Roma
Champions League, Group C, Stadio Olimpico – Roma 3 (El Shaarawy 1’, 36’ Perotti 63’) Chelsea 0
Chelsea were blown away by a vibrant and energetic Roma on Tuesday night at the Stadio Olimpico.
The home team got off to the best possible start when Stephen El Shaarawy emphatically volleyed Edin Dzeko's knock-down into the net with his left foot just 39 seconds into the match.
Chelsea never recovered from that point despite having a couple of good chances themselves. The first came shortly after Roma scored when Eden Hazard broke down the left but couldn't find a way past Alisson. Later in the first-half Pedro chased down a clearance that bounced to Alvaro Morata but he smashed over from close range.
Chelsea were incensed at the decision not to award a penalty, or at least a free-kick, when Alessandro Florenzi appeared to catch Hazard on the back of the leg. Hazard faded soon after and with him any hopes the Premier League Champions had.
Diego Perotti (AS Rome)Getty Images
El Shaarawy doubled the lead when former Roma defender Antonio Rudiger went for a floated cross from the left, missed it and allowed the forward to flick it past Courtois.
In the second-half all the energy came from Roma and they were duly rewarded when Diego Perotti took aim from just outside the box and powered a shot into the bottom corner.
The result means that Roma are now top of Group C, and Chelsea will be very grateful for Atletico Madrid failing to beat Qarabag FK which leaves the Spanish side four points behind the Blues.
This is a wider issue, Conte has to address the defence. Coming into this match Chelsea had won their last three matches yet in none of those games were they convincing. Some of the decisions made by Conte have been baffling to say the least. After a decent game at Bournemouth on Saturday Davide Zappacosta was dropped for Gary Cahill, who then went into the right-hand slot, not the left where he had been playing. Picking Cahill given his form this season is questionable enough as is, to shift him over to the other side of the defence seems ridiculous. Then, when Willian came on for the beleaguered Cahill, Pedro was asked to drop to right wing-back rather than the team moving to a back four. Conte's initial tactical flexibility last season was praised. Now his rigidity is costing Chelsea.
Chelsea players look dejected.Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma) There were so many candidates for Roma but in the end it has to be their two-goal hero. His strike after just 39 seconds was simply remarkable and his second was also well-taken. It wasn't just his goals though, he gave Marcos Alonso a torrid time down Roma's right and he was willing to both come outside and go down the line. Dzeko was bright but never really a threat in front of goal, so it was key that the players around him stepped up, and they did just that.
Stephan El ShaarawyGetty Images
Chelsea - Courtois 6, Cahill 4, Luiz 4, Rudiger 3, Azpilicueta 5, Alonso 4, Bakayoko 4, Fabregas 3, Pedro 4, Morata 4, Hazard 5.
1' - GOAL! ROMA 1-0 CHELSEA (EL SHAARAWY) Oh my word what a start that is! A long ball is nodded down by Dzeko and on the run El Shaarawy volleys it into the net. That is an incredible goal!
25' - HOW HAS HE NOT SCORED?! Hazard hits it straight at Alisson again. Then Pedro chases down Kolarov and it bounces off him and into the box. Morata fires it over from just a few yards out.
37' - GOAL! ROMA 2-0 CHELSEA (EL SHAARAWY) That is so, so poor Rudiger. A ball is clipped over from the left and Rudiger steps up and totally misses the ball. El Shaarawy slips it past Courtois. Not a happy return to Roma for Rudiger.
AS Roma celebrateGetty Images
63' - GOAL! ROMA 3-0 CHELSEA (PEROTTI) Oh that's a lovely, lovely goal. Perotti picks up the ball and smashes it into the bottom corner around 20 yards out. He absolutely rinsed Pedro in the build-up there, poor decision from Conte.
68' - OH MY WORD WHAT IS THAT DEFENDING?? That is absolutely schoolboy from Chelsea! Dzeko chases down a long ball over the top and all three of the centre-backs go over to him. That leaves Perotti totally free in the box and when Dzeko finds him he really should have done better than hitting it over.
Chelsea's defeat was the first suffered by an English team in the Champions League this season.