Premiership: Middlesbrough 2 – 1 Chelsea

Match reports

The Guardian, Michael Walker: “Andriy Shevchenko’s first Premiership goal, allied to a composed all-round Chelsea performance, appeared to have given Jose Mourinho’s team a second consecutive win but Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough beat Chelsea here 3-0 six months ago and there could be no doubting the players’ commitment to try and repeat that for Gareth Southgate.”

The Independent, Simon Rushworth: “In the aftermath of the champions’ second successive League defeat at the Riverside, Mourinho apportioned collective blame and shed little light on whether a decidedly nervous defensive display would accelerate [Khalid] Boulahrouz’s debut. However, it seems certain that the imposing centre-half will replace the disinterested Ricardo Carvalho at Ewood Park on Sunday.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Substitute Mark Viduka was the hero of the hour, scoring a stoppage-time winner after Emanuel Pogatetz had cancelled out Andrei Shevchenko’s first Premiership goal for Chelsea, for whom memories of last season’s 3-0 defeat at the Riverside were revived in dramatic fashion.”

The Times, George Caulkin: “Chelsea’s defence of their 1-0 lead had been a masterpiece of its kind, efficient and uncompromising. After Andriy Shevchenko had opened his account in the Barclays Premiership with an early goal, they approached ruthlessness and while Middlesbrough often appeared lightweight by comparison, they battled gamely until the death. It turned out to be a triumphant quality.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “If you don’t take your chances, and you can’t defend your goal, you lose games like this.”

BBC Sport, Saj Chowdhury: “Shevchenko was a joy to watch. He was clever without over-playing, and when he did come under a challenge, there were no histrionics.”

The good

  1. Chelsea had more than enough chances to win the game. Andriy Shevchenko again showed his class and scored his first Premiership goal; his 30-yard freekick was superb (take note Didier Drogba) and would have beaten the majority of ‘keepers, only Middlesbrough’s Mark Schwarzer was in fine form all night; and his speedy run down the left and subsequent cross for Frank Lampard to head against the woodwork (Lampard should have done better) was equally brilliant.
  2. Wayne Bridge. Impressive for the second successive game. Great interchange with Michael Essien before supplying the cross for Shevchenko’s goal.
  3. Claude Makelele. Considering this was his first outing since the World Cup Final, the diminutive Frenchman was his usual composed self.

The bad

  1. The defence in general seemed below par and a tad hesitant, but Ricardo Carvalho in particular was out of sorts: he was all over the place on occasions. The defending at the freekick that led to Boro’s equaliser (awarded after an unnecessary tackle on Stewart Downing by Paulo Ferreira) was quite simply appalling.

    Jose Mourinho refused to criticise the defence, instead apportioning blame on the team as a whole. “I don’t think it was a problem with the defence,” he said. “Overall the team didn’t play well enough and there are no excuses. For me it was our attitude and overall their attitude was much stronger than ours.”

    Match of the Day’s Alan Hansen reckons Chelsea need Petr Cech back in goal as soon as possible, his reasoning being that Carlo Cudicini’s indecision at crosses and high balls causes hesitancy in the back four. He may have a point.

  2. Chelsea’s failure to put the game beyond Boro during long periods of ascendancy. Even Boro – renowned for their comebacks after last season’s UEFA Cup exploits – would have found it difficult to come from two down.

Man of the Match

Andriy Shevchenko. Wayne Bridge was in with a shout until Boro scored their late goals.

Final thoughts

Mourinho: “For me I am very disappointed. I have been a manager for five, six or seven years and this is not a Jose Mourinho team.”

Rest assured that we’re more than likely to see a proper Jose Mourinho team at Ewood Park on Sunday.

Related links