Bremen give Chelsea blues ahead of United duel
November 22, 2006 7:46pm CST
Chelsea progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League despite losing 1-0 in their Group A clash with Werder Bremen. A 27th minute header from German international defender Per Mertesacker inflicted a first European defeat on Chelsea and punctured confidence ahead of Sunday's title showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Chelsea knew a point would be enough to see them finish top of the group and with winless Levski Sofia their final opponents they should at the very least get one. German outfit Bremen are now level on ten points with Chelsea and have a great chance to eliminate reigning champions Barcelona. Barcelona, two points behind Bremen after a 2-0 win over Sofia, face the Germans in a thrilling finale at the Nou Camp on December 5 needing a win to go through. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was not aware that his side had progressed but admitted he was not happy to have gone through having lost. "For sure are we? I like to lose to my kids but not to my opponents, it was not a super game by Chelsea." Chelsea captain John Terry admitted it was a disappointing result but warned people off from accusing them of not wanting to win the match so it would make life for Barcelona very difficult. "I am a little bit disappointed to lose," said the England captain, who picked up a booking which sees him miss the clash with Sofia. "I am disappointed but pleased we played so well and upset we got nothing from it." "No one can accuse of us not trying to win the game, they can look at the teamsheet. Thankfully we are through." Mourinho also insisted that Chelsea had taken it seriously. "I think we showed that we treated it seriously. "We tried everything. We missed Lampard and Didier (Drogba who went off with an ankle injury but should be fit for the United match) in the last period." As promised Mourinho fielded a full-strength team with German international captain Michael Ballack making his first return to his homeland since a summer switch from Bayern Munich. With Lampard suspended the omission of prolific Ukraine international forward Andriy Shevchenko came as a surprise. Bremen manager Thomas Schaaf fielded his usual 4-2-2 with the only surprise seeing Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida come in for Aaron Hunt. Both sides were keen to get forward whenever possible and Chelsea had a great chance in the eighth minute but Jon Obi Mikel headed over after a great lay-off from Terry. Almeida, who played under Mourinho at FC Porto, had an equally good chance for Bremen on 16 minutes but screwed his shot wide under pressure from Geremi. Bremen then forged ahead with Mertesacker, a cornerstone of Germany's World Cup side, ghosting in from a corner to head in on 27th minutes with Chelsea's marking all at sea - though Mourinho was furious as Torsten Frings had won a freekick which produced the corner having not been touched by Ashley Cole. "It was bizarre, no-one was near him," said an incredulous Terry. "Frings dived but we should have dealt with freekick and corner better." Ballack could have equalised on 32 minutes but Tim Wiese blocked his effort which appeared to come off his thigh. The goal did not come for Chelsea and Mourinho threw on Dutch international Arjen Robben and Shevchenko, who replaced Drogba, after an hour. Shevchenko immediately went close with a free-kick pulling a low save from Wiese. But Bremen held on for a historic win over the current powerhouse of English football and one of the favourites for the Champions League crown.