Match - Wed 23 November, 21:45,
|0. (73’)||11. (48’)|
|5. (90 + 1’)|
Blues in danger after Leverkusen loss
Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea manager
The Blues looked to be on course for a place in the last 16 when a goal from Didier Drogba early in the second half put them into the lead, but Bayer hit back through Eren Derdiyok and stole all three points with a dramatic injury time winner from Manuel Friedrich.
Combined with Valencia’s massive win at home to Genk, the result means the top three teams in Group E are separated by just a point. Just who progresses will be determined by the final round of fixtures on December 6, which sees Chelsea host Valencia and Bayer travel to Genk.
Chelsea started slowly and the home team were able to dominate possession, though with only one genuine striker in the shape of Stefan Kiessling, Leverkusen rarely looked like troubling the English side’s backline.
The best chance they did create came from a set piece, with former Blues player Michael Ballack heading onto the crossbar from a corner kick in the 33rd minute.
That scare sparked Chelsea into life somewhat and Didier Drogba missed out on a great chance to opening the scoring before half time, shooting wide from a tight angle after rounding goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Yet the Ivorian got his radar right in just the second minute after the restart, controlling a pass from Daniel Sturridge and holding off two defenders before firing home a low left-footed shot on the turn to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Ballack had two opportunities just before the hour mark to bring Bayer back into the game, but on both occasions he was denied by fine saves from Petr Cech – the second in particular was a remarkable reaction stop from point-blank range.
With 20 minutes to play, substitute Florent Malouda had the chance to kill off the game for Chelsea, but after bursting through the Leverkusen defence he was denied by Leno, who bravely dived at the winger’s feet to smother the ball.
The German side made Chelsea pay for that miss just a couple of minutes later, as a substitute of their own, Eren Derdiyok, headed home from Sidney Sam’s cross to make it 1-1.
The match seemed destined to end in a draw but Leverkusen surged ahead in the first minute of injury time at the end of the game, with defender Manuel Friedrich powering home a header via the underside of the crossbar.