Chelsea advances despite loss

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Chelsea advanced to the second round of the Champions League despite losing to Werder Bremen 1-0 on Wednesday in Group A.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Bremen, Germany:

Chelsea advanced to the second round of the Champions League despite losing to Werder Bremen 1-0 on Wednesday in Group A. Both Chelsea and Bremen have 10 points, but the English champions lead the Germans on head-to-head. Per Mertesacker 27th-minute header was the game's only goal, and despite advancing, Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho wasn't happy with the loss. "I've just lost a football game," Mourinho said. "What I said yesterday was true - I like to lose against my kids, not to lose against real opponents." Bremen can still advance if it gets at least a draw at FC Barcelona in its last group match. "We have high goals in this group - now we just have to finish it," Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf said. "We played aggressively. We were in the match from the start and we didn't allow a top team many chances." Barca beat Levski Sofia Barcelona, the tournament's defending champion, beat Levski Sofia 2-0 in the other group match to move to eight points. When Mertesacker leaped to meet Torsten Fring's twisting corner for his first Champions League goal, neither the nearby Didier Drogba nor Michael Ballack marked him. Mourinho wasn't pleased with the sequence of events leading up to Frings' corner - it started when the Germany midfielder slipped and fell over the ball and a free kick was whistled against Chelsea. But he was happy with the way his players' took control of the match afterward. "Our reaction was good," Mourinho said. Bremen dominated from the start of the match, while Chelsea played like a team that may have been looking ahead to Sunday's showdown against English Premier League leader Manchester United. In the second half, the English team attacked, but few chances were dangerous except forward Andriy Shevchenko's precise 70th-minute free kick, which forced Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese into a leaping dive. Drogba left the match in the 69th minute with an injury and is questionable for the Manchester United match. He was replaced by Shevchenko. "In the second I wanted to try and change the game," Mourinho said. "I wanted to play Didier and Sheva, but Didier got injured and I could only play Sheva and with these giants it is difficult." Ballack injured Ballack also injured his calf, but is expected to play on Sunday. "We didn't play our best," Ballack said. "We knew somehow we were in the next round." Chelsea also played without the suspended Frank Lampard, but otherwise started its regulars against the German team, which hasn't allowed a goal in its last three matches in the competition. "My feeling is positive. Nobody can say we didn't come here and play this seriously," Mourinho said. After the goal, Bremen slowed the pace and Chelsea took control. But the only good first-half chance came when Ballack got his thigh on Joe Cole's 33rd-minute cross, but the close-range attempt went right into the hands of Wiese. Bremen began the competition as the complete outsider against Chelsea and Barcelona, two title favorites. "We are ready to pull off the surprise. We have shown we can compete against the best," Frings said. (AP)