Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Red Devils, Blues sink

CHAMPIONS CUP Turkish champion Besiktas scored a 2-0 victory at Chelsea and Stuttgart edged past Manchester United 2-1 in first round group games


Chelsea's Frank Lampard jumps past Besiktas' captian Havutcu Tayfur during their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Wednesday.


There was a time when English clubs won the Champions Cup year after year.

Now it looks as if they don't want it.

Manchester United and Chelsea both flopped to defeats on Wednesday the day after Arsenal failed to score in a tame 0-0 draw.

Chelsea, with a huge squad of 30 pros since Russian billionaire oil tycoon Roman Abramovich took over ownership two months ago, was expected by its fans to have no problems dealing with Besiktas, which had never won a Champions League game away from Turkey.

But two goals in three first-half minutes by Sergan Yalcin and Chelsea's inability to break down a well-organized defense meant three dropped points for the Blues. Besiktas even had Turkish international striker Ilhan Mansiz sent off early in the second half for needless yellow cards, but Claudio Ranieri's men couldn't take advantage.

"When you make some mistakes, you pay," he said.

Despite the loss, Ranieri's team hasn't lost much ground because Lazio was held to a 2-2 draw by Sparta and only leads Besiktas and Chelsea by one point.

Libor Sionko and Karel Poborsky gave the Czech champion a 2-0 halftime lead in Rome before Inzaghi's strikes, one from a penalty, earned the Italian side a point that keeps it top of Group G.

"There are no easy matches in the Champions League," Lazio coach Roberto Mancini said.

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