Chelsea beaten 2-1 by Basel in Champions League
After the euphoric return, reality is biting for Jose Mourinho,
and the Chelsea homecoming is quickly going sour.
Having already presided over the worst Premier League start in
Roman Abramovich’s decade as owner, Mourinho is now reeling from
the London club losing its Champions League group stage opener for
the first time.
Swiss champion Basel had never won a game in England until
coming from behind on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge to beat Chelsea
2-1 in Group E.
The winner came in the 82nd minute after Marco Streller seized
on slack defense at the near post to meet a corner and flick a
header past goalkeeper Petr Cech.
”I am responsible for everything,” Mourinho said. ”Especially
after a bad result.”
Although Oscar lit up a drab start by curling Chelsea in front
before half time, the 2012 European Cup winners and reigning Europa
League champions missed a succession of chances to extend their
lead after the break.
And Basel, which beat Manchester United in the 2011-12 group
stage, made Chelsea pay for its wastefulness when Mohamed Salah
began the comeback in the 71st by bending in the equalizer.
Streller then inflicted the loss that came exactly six years
after Mourinho’s first three-year Chelsea reign was ended by
Abramovich following a drab Champions League draw against
This was even more embarrassing for the west London club.
Not since October 2003, when Claudio Ranieri was in charge at
the start of Abramovich’s ownership, had Chelsea even lost a game
in the group stage.
”We go home sad,” said Mourinho, who wants to avoid Chelsea
dropping into the Europa League to defend its title.
This setback comes with Chelsea already three points off the
Premier League lead after four games, having opened with two wins,
a draw and a loss to sit in sixth place.
”We still believe in each other,” Mourinho said. ”We need to
keep together, stick together and try against Fulham (on Saturday)
to get the result to wake up the team for a smile.”
The shock win drew acclaim from Basel’s famous fans.
”Fantastic evening for Basel supporters, wow!” tennis great
Roger Federer wrote on Twitter. ”I am so happy, thanks
The win ended Chelsea’s 13-match unbeaten home run in European
”Winning here at Chelsea against a manager like Mourinho is a
great achievement,” Basel coach Murat Yakin said through a
translator. ”But I’ve spoken with my players and we have to remain
modest … there is a lot ahead of us still.”
Basel is only off top spot in Group E because Schalke beat
Steaua Bucharest 3-0.
Winning European football elite competition remains the
obsession at Stamford Bridge despite the Champions League finally
being won under former coach Roberto Di Matteo in 2012.
Against Basel, there was no Fernando Torres in the starting
lineup or even on the bench, and Demba Ba only came on in the
second half with the teams locked at 1-1.
Instead, Samuel Eto’o, recently signed from Russian club Anzhi
Makhachkala, led the attack.
But the Cameroon striker, a four-time African player of the year
and the world’s best-paid star while at Anzhi, couldn’t even muster
a shot on goal.
”Samuel maybe lacked sharpness and this doesn’t surprise really
when you are some years in a place that doesn’t motivate you and
you are out of the big stage, maybe you’re there not for the right
reasons and you lose hunger and appetite,” Mourinho said. ”Now he
has that back, he has that motivation.”
Chelsea’s breakthrough instead came from Oscar in the 45th
minute, with David Luiz, who had concerned Mourinho with his
sloppiness in defense, bringing the ball forward.
The Brazil center back fed Frank Lampard and Oscar connected
with a throughball before striking low past goalkeeper Yann
After an insipid first half – the type of performance fans
jeered during Rafa Benitez’s interim reign last year – Chelsea
discovered some spark after the break.
But, first the cross bar denied Oscar and, when he tried to curl
a shot into the net from a similar position outside of the area,
the ball went wide.
The pressure was increasing, but a second goal proved
A towering header from Branislav Ivanovic was saved by Sommer at
close range and the defender saw another header from a free kick
The game really came to life when Basel finally found its stride
to stun the hosts.
Slick build-up play allowed Marco Strelle set up Salah to curl
in the leveler from the edge of the area.
Then, Chelsea defenders left Streller in space to meet Kay
Voser’s corner at the near post and compound the early anxieties
for Chelsea at the start of a season that promised so much with the
morale-boosting return of Mourinho.