The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Chelsea have qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League yet, as the locals celebrated raucously and the acrid smoke from their victory flares drifted across the turf, it was the scowl worn by José Mourinho that summed up this evening’s work. A chance to win this group was passed up in Switzerland, Basel completing a deserved double over the Europa League holders, even if Schalke’s goalless draw in distant Bucharest edged Chelsea through regardless. In the end, they staggered on in a daze.”
The Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “This was a chop that Jose Mourinho did not expect. Having taken the clippers to his locks, with that new cropped haircut, he watched as Chelsea were shorn. Cut down, in fact. Having made a rallying cry for bravehearts for the coming intense flurry of matches, Chelsea were meek and mild and deservedly lost without registering a single shot: on or off target. Uefa charitably claimed there was one effort — maybe a Frank Lampard free-kick that dribbled goalwards — but that was pushing it. A lot. Chelsea were caught napping — and Mourinho let them know it.”
The Independent, Simon Johnson: “Chelsea secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League despite slumping to a shock defeat in Switzerland, but Europe’s elite will have little to worry about in the new year’s knockout phase after this woeful display. Mohammed Salah netted the winner Basel deserved three minutes from time to send the home fans into delirium and leave Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho questioning whether his players have the strength to cope with the winter period after all. They have progressed with a game to spare in fortunate fashion because Schalke only drew against Steaua Bucharest and still trail Chelsea by a point, while Basel remain two behind. Chelsea’s closest rivals play each other in the final group game so Mourinho’s side can’t be caught by both, although they will need to win at home against Steaua to guarantee top spot.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “For the second time in this group stage, Basel were deserved winners over Chelsea but Schalke’s 0-0 draw away in Romania puts us through to the Champions League knockout stages. The Blues came looking for the win that would guarantee top spot but that rarely looked on the cards. On a night when Samuel Eto’o was carried off on a stretcher, our attacking play did not record a shot on target, whereas in the first-half the enduring excellence of Petr Cech kept the home side at bay. The second-half display by Chelsea was more solid but with their one genuine opening after the break, Basel scored late in the game through Mohamed Salah. There was no way back and we now need a win at Stamford Bridge against Steaua if we are to guarantee going into the last 16 draw as group stage winners.”
“The only positive thing is that we go through, but not because we got the result. In the end we qualified which is our first objective and now we have the last match at home to finish first.
“Today I want to praise Basel. They won because we were sleeping in the last minutes but they won also because they were the best team and they deserved to win.
“I can only find one aspect. From the first minute I was getting signs of that. My team was tired.
“They paid the price today for the international week. I was afraid of the reaction in the game against West Ham. Maybe because the game was of an outstanding importance for us the team focused and everybody gave a great individual performance and a great collective performance.
“Today we made mistakes defensively, we made mistakes with the ball, we lost easy passes, we lost every second ball, people were thinking late and making late decisions, and we finished with a ridiculous goal.”
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(Image via Akiyoshi’s illusion pages.)