Football: Melchiot Sent off as Chelsea Are Floored by Late Double ; Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2 Chelsea 0
Silver, Neil, The Independent (London, England)
CHELSEA HAD Mario Melchiot sent off early in the second half and then conceded two late goals as their much-publicised trip to Israel ended in defeat.
The Blues' fears over their safety on this visit to the Middle East, which resulted in six players opting out, proved unfounded. Instead, all their troubles came on the field from their lively hosts, who attacked them from the first whistle and gained two vital, and deserved, goals to take to Stamford Bridge for the second leg in a fortnight.
Dutch defender Melchiot was shown a straight red card for an off- the- ball incident after 52 minutes which was spotted by the referee's assistant.
The 10 men held out until two minutes before the end when John Terry handled a cross and Israeli international defender Shimon Gershon converted the penalty.
Things then went from bad to worse for Claudio Ranieri's side three minutes into injury time. Seventeen-year-old centre-half Joel Kitamirike - handed a debut because four of the six absentees were defenders - made a mistake which allowed Yossi Abuksis to cross from the right and striker Serghey Ciescenko scored with a header which went in off the far post.
It was tough on Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who had an outstanding debut before being beaten by two goals he could do nothing about.
Chelsea started the night looking unfamiliar in shirts without the name of their sponsors, Emirates Airlines, as it had been felt that the logo might cause offence to their hosts.
There was also a makeshift look to the Chelsea team and they struggled to settle in a passionate and noisy atmosphere in the Bloomfield Stadium. …