Roma 3, Chelsea 0
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits he is worried about his team’s ineffective defence after the Blues suffered their heaviest Champions League defeat for five years.
Conte’s team, so disciplined last season, endured a calamitous night against Roma, who needed just 44 seconds to take the lead through forward Stephan El Shaarawy’s rasping half-volley.
A mistake by Antonio Rudiger against his former team allowed El Shaarawy to score again before half-time and Diego Perotti lashed in the hosts’ third to send them ahead of Chelsea and top of Group C.
The Blues have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight matches, a failing that a concerned Conte believes is down to a busier schedule this term leaving them less time for tactical training.
“When you concede three goals you must be worried, because it means something doesn’t work,” he said.
“It’s very difficult now to tell [why] but for sure we have to analyse the game. I think we need to work on the tactical aspect because for sure this season we are working less on this aspect and we are paying this situation.
Conte saw his team concede after just 44 seconds in Rome (Source: Getty)
“When you lose 3-0 it means that it wasn’t a good performance. Our first half was good, we created many chances to score and to finish the first half 2-0 down was unfair in my opinion.
“But the second half was a really bad performance, because Roma showed more desire, more will to fight, more desire to win the game. I am very disappointed for our second half and I think for this performance we all have to take responsibility.”
Defeat leaves Chelsea one point behind Roma and four ahead of Atletico Madrid with two to play, although of greater immediate concern will be Sunday’s Premier League visit from Manchester United.
They were pierced instantly in Italy, albeit by a terrific first-time El Shaarawy shot with the outside of the boot, after Edin Dzeko knocked down Aleksandar Kolarov’s long ball.
It was another hopeful pass forward, this time from Radja Nainggolan, that undid Chelsea on 37 minutes. Rudiger, who left Roma for London in the summer, left the ball for Thibaut Courtois, only for El Shaarawy to steal in first and stroke past the goalkeeper.
Winger Perotti sealed the Blues’ worst European defeat since November 2012, when they lost 3-0 at a Juventus side managed by none other than Conte himself, with a low shot from 20 yards after he drifted in off the left flank.