Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chelsea Quelled by a Single Glance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chelsea Quelled by a Single Glance

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ian Parkes

Blackburn are back in Europe as Mark Hughes' side proved to Jose Mourinho they are no longer the thugs he labelled them 15 months ago, writes Ian Parkes.

The Blues' last visit to Ewood Park ended in acrimony and angry words from Chelsea manager Mourinho as he lambasted Blackburn's rough tactics.

But those days are long gone at Rovers as a relegation battle last season has been replaced by a glorious campaign that should see the club competing in next term's Uefa Cup.

Under Hughes, Blackburn are no longer brutal bullies, but instead shrewder and more tactically acute and that has led to their stark reversal in fortunes.

There were still the odd niggly challenges and shirt pull here and there that on another night with another referee might have earned Chelsea a penalty.

But on three separate occasions Steve Bennett was unimpressed as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Frank Lampard and Hernan Crespo all went to ground.

Instead, it was Blackburn who took the honours, and Steven Reid in particular with his fifth goal of the season on the stroke of half-time to book Rovers' return to Europe.

In part Mourinho paid the price for making eight changes to his side, although he cannot be blamed after they clinched their second successive Premiership title on Saturday. Crucially, Mourinho was without the stalwart leadership qualities of captain John Terry, with the armband passed to Lampard.

He, though, perhaps failed to galvanise the side in the same way Terry does as the opening half hour lacked fluidity and rhythm. Blackburn were marginally better, but they too were without their captain after Ryan Nelsen cracked a leg bone in Saturday's 2-0 win at Charlton.

That resulted in Lucas Neill taking up the skipper's mantle and producing another sterling effort in switching from right back to the centre of defence.

Yet Blackburn failed to capitalise on Chelsea's dishevelled nature, and it was not until the 25th minute that the fans witnessed the first meaningful chance. …

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