Chelsea vs. Napoli  4 - 1

Article

Di Matteo proud of history-making Blues

15 March 2012 05:58

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo says his side "made history" by progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals with victory over Napoli.

The Blues went into Wednesday's last-16 tie 3-1 down on aggregate after defeat in Naples, but triumphed 4-1 following extra time at Stamford Bridge to secure passage to the next round.

The interim boss was understandably delighted with his squad following the win, telling ITV: "It was a fantastic effort and a fantastic game as well, to watch two great teams on the pitch."

"I think we made history tonight because we were in such a difficult position before the game."

"We knew it would take a lot to go through and the performance of the whole team was outstanding."

While the 41-year-old initially refused to single out his senior players, he conceded their experience in important matches had helped Chelsea to progress.

"It was not just the senior players it was the collective performance of the team," he said.

"But the senior players put experience on pitch because they are used to playing this type of game."

"David Luiz couldn't walk anymore at the end and John Terry went on (playing) with cramp."

"Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Petr Cech who made some great saves, and everyone playing were incredible tonight."

Walter Mazzarri was disappointed Napoli's European adventure had come to an end, but said his side's lack of experience had shown in the important moments.

"It is a shame to go out like this," Mazzarri said. "In terms of sheer performance, we created three or four scoring opportunities when it was still goalless. From Maggio’s injury onwards, we realised things were taking a turn for the worse."

"We lacked a little experience and still need to grow. Chelsea were clinical, as is to be expected from a team packed with world class players. Unfortunately we were a little unlucky with some of our chances."

"After 21 years we managed to equal the record set by Diego Maradona’s Napoli. We are proud of that. Our Champions League campaign was fantastic. We flew through the group phase and I’d give us eight out of 10 considering what was expected of us at the start of the season."

"There were naive mistakes due to our lack of experience. We had almost everything to lose and it was understandable to make errors in this fiery atmosphere, yet we wasted so many chances against a side that before tonight hadn’t conceded on home turf."

"What can I say? We were in any case fantastic in the Champions League. The lads gave their all and in the locker room I tried to boost their morale."

Article

Champions League: Chelsea 4 Napoli 1

14 March 2012 23:47

Branislav Ivanovic scored a winner in extra time as Chelsea beat Napoli 4-1 and progressed to the last eight of the Champions League.

Goals from the old guard of Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard had given Chelsea a 3-1 win in regulation time at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, leaving the tie poised at 4-4 on aggregate after their disastrous first leg in Naples.

With the home crowd fired up it was Ivanovic who stepped up to score the winner 15 minutes into extra time, sweeping home a low cross from Drogba to send Roberto Di Matteo's side into the quarter-finals.

The first chance of the match fell to Sturridge as he volleyed goalwards at an angle in the penalty area, but Morgan De Sanctis palmed it behind for a corner.

It did not take long for Napoli to show their attacking ability, however. Gokhan Inler played the ball into Ezequiel Lavezzi on the edge of the penalty area and after swivelling, he let rip, but Petr Cech made the save, if a little awkwardly.

The visitors were continuing to look extremely imperious in attack. This time it was Cavani who went close, getting on the end of Maggio's low cross at the back-post, but much to the relief of the Chelsea fans the Uruguayan could only find the side netting, and Chelsea eventually made him pay.

After 27 anonymous minutes, Drogba gave the home team the lead. Ramires took up possession on the left wing and delivered an excellent ball towards the near-post for Drogba to throw himself at and nod down past De Sanctis.

And it did not take long for the hosts to level the aggregate score after halftime. Napoli sloppily gave away a corner, and Terry rose highest to head the ball out of De Sanctis' reach and double Chelsea's lead on the night.

Chelsea's two goal lead did not last long, though. With 54 minutes gone, Terry headed substitute Dossena's cross out to the edge of the area, but only as far as Inler, who chested the ball under control and smashed a half-volley into Cech's bottom right corner to put Napoli ahead 4-3 on aggregate.

The match took another turn when Dossena clearly handled the ball in the Chelsea area with 15 minutes remaining.

Lampard coolly converted the penalty to level the aggregate scores, and the deadlock remained until the final whistle to send the tie into extra time.

Following a few chances for Ivanovic and Torres in the opening half of extra-time, Chelsea got the goal to send themselves through just before halftime as the Serbian defender slammed a shot into the roof of the net after excellent work on the right from Drogba.

The second-half of extra-time was very nervy for the hosts, but after Drogba missed a golden opportunity in the dying moments, Chelsea held on despite pressure from their visitors and progressed to the next round.

Article

Cech aims to shut out Napoli

14 March 2012 15:43

Petr Cech says keeping a clean sheet could be key if Chelsea are to progress in the Champions League against Napoli on Wednesday.

Chelsea go into the round-of-16 second leg 3-1 down from the first match in Naples on February 21, and a 2-0 scoreline at Stamford Bridge would be enough to see them through.

However, a goal for Napoli would leave the hosts needing to score three times just to force the game into extra-time, and goalkeeper Cech is aware of the significance of not conceding.

"A clean sheet could be decisive," Cech said.

"If we can do that we could go through, conceding would mean we need to score three for extra-time."

"That's a big task, they keep scoring in every game they play, and they played on Friday so will be fresh, but that doesn't matter, it's up to us and we have to give everything we can and hope it will be enough."

"We know we can turn it around at home, we have done it for other Champions League ties and we need to think we can do it again."

"They will play the same as they did (in the first leg), they will sit back and wait for counterattacks to try and get a goal, and we need to make sure they don't score."

Arsenal's elimination at the hands of AC Milan last week means Chelsea are the only English club left in the competition, but Cech is hopeful a memorable night at Stamford Bridge can prolong his team's participation.

"It is a huge game because it makes a massive difference if you go out at the last 16 or progress," he said.

"Our aim every season is to go as far as we can."

"The advantage is with Napoli but the Champions League nights are always special for the supporters and hopefully this will be one they can remember for a long time."

Article

Zola declines to play favourites

14 March 2012 14:06

Gianfranco Zola's loyalties will be divided during Wednesday's Champions League encounter between Chelsea and Napoli at Stamford Bridge.

Zola, 45, made over 100 appearances for Serie A side Napoli between 1989 and 1993, and he went on to become a Chelsea favourite during a nine-year stay in west London from 1996 to 2005.

The two clubs meet in the Champions League round-of-16 second leg this week, with Napoli leading 3-1 on aggregate from the first leg at the Stadio San Paolo on February 21.

"This game puts me in a difficult position. One team gave me my debut in Serie A, the other is where I was able to realise every footballer's dream," Zola told Uefa.com.

"I really hope it's a great game to watch and that the better side goes through. The Champions League is such a huge, prestigious tournament that it can actually change the way a season is going."

A young Zola played alongside all-time great Diego Maradona at Napoli, and the former Italy international spoke highly of the talented, combustible Argentine.

"Maradona was an unbelievable player," Zola said.

"He made things happen, he was a player who would win football matches for you. The Neapolitan people really identified with Maradona. People showed a great energy and love for him."

"I'm happy to say that not only was Maradona a brilliant footballer but he was also a lovely bloke. We, his team-mates, all loved him."

Article

Champions League preview: Chelsea v Napoli

14 March 2012 02:24

Chelsea need to improve on recent performances if they are to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Napoli.

A 3-1 loss in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie in Italy left the Premier League side on the brink of an early exit ahead of Wednesday's clash.

But since that defeat Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas has left Stamford Bridge and Chelsea have recorded consecutive wins with Roberto Di Matteo in charge.

Those victories, however, have come against Birmingham City and Stoke, far weaker opponents than Serie A outfit Napoli.

Walter Mazzarri's in-form side have won six consecutive matches, including a 6-3 thrashing of Cagliari on Friday.

The resounding win underlined Napoli's attacking talent, with Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi getting on the scoresheet and Edison Cavani only needed off the bench.

A goal would make it difficult for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and Napoli have netted at least once in their last seven matches.

Di Matteo said he wanted his team to believe they could overturn the deficit, and added they needed to produce a performance similar to that of Arsenal, who overcame AC Milan 3-0 on Tuesday but lost 4-3 on aggregate.

"The players realise they can win," Di Matteo said.

"Arsenal did and now it's up to us to have the belief we can do the same."

Villas-Boas was criticised for risky team selection, including leaving Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien on the bench, in the first leg against Napoli at Stadio San Paolo.

Di Matteo is unlikely to take the same chances, with an experienced side - much like the one that edged Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday - likely to be preferred.

The back four of Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic are beginning to settle, and they have a huge role to play in containing the talented Napoli forwards if Chelsea are to have any chance of progressing to the last eight.

Article

Terry hoping Chelsea can make history

14 March 2012 02:22

John Terry believes Chelsea's Champions League showdown with Napoli on Wednesday has the potential to be one of the club's 'great nights'.

After suffering a 3-1 loss in the first leg of the last-16 encounter in Naples last month, Chelsea have a monumental task to turn around the tie if they are to book a place in the quarter-finals.

But captain Terry believes the team is capable of turning things around quickly at Stamford Bridge.

"If it all goes well it could go down as one of the great nights in Chelsea's history," Terry said.

"We have had some big nights but as you said over there it was a hostile atmosphere, they showed that they are a very good footballing and attacking side."

"We are very aware of what they possess and will bring to us, but with that in mind (it's) a big Champions League night - it's what the Champions League is all about."

"We are hoping we have got the squad of players and the experience to overcome that."

Terry feels Chelsea's new management team of Roberto Di Matteo and Eddie Newton have gotten the club moving in the right direction again after Andre Villas-Boas oversaw a troubled spell.

"Unfortunately for us moving forward we couldn't seem to buy a win and we change managers and we get two wins," Terry said.

"Sometimes that is football and as a player you can never sit there and put your finger on one thing and say it's this, 'This is the reason we are not winning games'."

"Robbie (Di Matteo) and Eddie have come in and obviously done very well in the first two games and with that in mind it is the momentum that we have maybe missed coming into these big Champions League games on the back of wins with confidence."

"Our confidence has been dented a little bit because of the run of bad form we had."

Article

Napoli´s Hamsik wary of Chelsea threat

13 March 2012 07:13

Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik has warned his side not to underestimate Chelsea in Wednesday's Champions League match at Stamford Bridge.

The Serie A club have taken a big step towards reaching the quarter-finals of the competition after securing a 3-1 victory at the San Paolo in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Since then, Chelsea have undergone managerial changes, seeing Roberto Di Matteo take over from Andre Villas-Boas, who was sacked after a series of disappointing results.

However, Hamsik does not believe that the Blues are in crisis and reminded of the Switzerland-born coach's positive start at the Premier League club.

"Villas-Boas' sack does not favour us, Chelsea showed a new spirit in the last two matches," Hamsik said after Napoli's 6-3 win over Cagliari in Serie A at the weekend.

"However, we are only thinking about ourselves. This will be an important match and we trust our capacities."

"They will surge forward in attack to level the tie, we can hit them on the counter."

Article

Maggio calls for Napoli focus

10 March 2012 13:02

Napoli defender Christian Maggio has called for a disciplined display from his side against Chelsea in their Champions League return leg.

Walter Mazzarri's men take a 3-1 first-leg advantage to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and are firm favourites to advance to the quarter finals.

They travel to London on the back of a 6-3 win over Cagliari, and despite the emphatic victory, Italy international Christian Maggio feels his side need to defend better.

"Our strength resides in our desire to prove our worth," Maggio told Sky Sport Italia after Friday's victory.

"It was not easy against Cagliari, but we worked hard and looked for the victory all the way through the game."

"However this match must be a warning for London, as we have to be focused for 90 minutes and more."

Maggio bagged the Naples-based men's sixth goal late in Friday and the former Spamdoria man, was pleased with his effort.

"I'm happy with my goal, as I always do my best for this jersey," he said.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 8 +15 22
2 8 +10 17
3 8 +14 16
4 8 +4 13
5 8 +1 13

Serie A table

# Team MP D P
5 7 +3 13
6 7 +6 12
7 7 +1 11
8 7 -1 11
9 7 +3 9