Juventus rallies to disappoint Chelsea

Juventus rallies to disappoint Chelsea

LONDON - The Associated Press
Juventus rallies to disappoint Chelsea

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (L) is tackled by Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini in the Champions League. Juventus battled its way to secure a draw against Chelsea. AP

Storming into an early 2-0 lead and with a new Brazilian playmaker scoring spectacular goals, Chelsea could hardly have made a better start to the defense of its Champions League title.

By the end of the match against Juventus on Sept. 19, however, the European champion was learning the hard way how hard it will be to retain club football’s most prestigious prize.

Chelsea produced a ragged display at Stamford Bridge to draw 2-2 with the rejuvenated Italian giants, whose equalizer came with 10 minutes to go from Fabio Quagliarella.

“We are disappointed and a little bit deflated to get in a great position to win the game and come away with only a draw,” said Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo, lamenting John Obi Mikel’s loss of possession that led to Quagliarella’s goal. “We should have closed the game and brought the win home.”

The positive note from an otherwise average performance by the Premier League leaders was the display of Oscar in his first start for the club following his 25 million pounds move from Brazilian club Internacional in the summer.

The 21-year-old playmaker scored two long-range goals - the first with the aid of a deflection and the second a stunning curler - in a two-minute span to put Chelsea in a commanding position after 33 minutes.

Impossible task

Some neat touches had the fans in raptures and he looks to be the schemer the club has been looking for as they seek to add some guile to a team renowned for its defensive fortitude.

“It was a great debut for Oscar,” said Di Matteo, who has been keen not to overuse the 21-year-old after his big-money move from his home country. “He did a perfect job tactically and scored two goals. It’s great to see we have a player like him in our ranks.”

Chelsea is trying to become the first team to successfully defend the European Champions League since its inception in 1992, a task branded “impossible” by Di Matteo.