By JOHN BOSCHINI
England is in danger of having no teams in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1995-96 after Chelsea were defeated by Napoli 3-1 in the first leg of the Round of 16.
Juan Mata's fortuitous goal midway through the first half was cancelled out by Ezequiel Lavezzi's brace and Edinson Cavani's goal just before halftime. Napoli continue to perform well against English sides with their victory over Manchester City effectively knocking the Premier League leaders out of the Champions League in the group stage.
Chelsea, who are now without captain John Terry for up to two months, have won only one of their last seven games, and the pressure continues to rise on manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Chelsea were gifted their early goal as mis-kick by Paolo Cannavaro put Mata in a great spot all alone in the middle of the penalty box. The Spaniard coolly slotted his volley past Morgan De Sanctis, and the visitors had the lead despite weathering a bunch of early pressure. It wasn't to last, though, as Lavezzi curled his first goal past Petr Cech in the 38th minute. Napoli then took the lead just before halftime when Cavani caught Chelsea sleeping and converted a cross from close range at the far post, running right at Branislav Ivanovic.
Chelsea's defensive fragility reared its ugly head midway through the second half, when David Luiz missed his tackle on Cavani and the striker squared the ball to Lavezzi, who converted into an empty net, with Petr Cech well off his line trying to track down the ball in his area.
Chelsea were on the back foot for the rest of the game and were saved from going down 4-1 when Ashley Cole cleared Christian Maggio's shot off the line. Chelsea head back to Stamford Bridge needing to overturn a two-goal deficit but do have a vital away goal.
CSKA MOSCOW 1, REAL MADRID 1
CSKA Moscow are still alive in the Champions League after an injury-time goal from Pontus Wernbloom salvaged a shocking draw with Real Madrid. The visitors dominated large portions of the game and were up by halftime thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo but couldn't put the Russian side away. Real Madrid will rue the multitude of golden chances that, if converted, could have ended the tie after the first leg.
Real Madrid were obviously affected by the intense cold and plastic pitch in Moscow as the Russian side performed admirably in their first competitive game in nearly two-and-a-half months. Real Madrid were ahead in the 21st minute when a poor clearance from Aleksei Berezutski allowed Ronaldo to rifle in a shot from the middle of the box. Moscow goalkeeper Sergey Chepchugov kept the deficit at one with several quality saves, including a double-save in which he robbed Sami Khedira from point-blank range.
The second half saw more Madrid pressure but no goals to show for it. Ronaldo was clear in on goal for what would have been his second tally, but he put his shot wide of the left post. Moscow gained confidence in the final 10 minutes and challenged Madrid's backline, and that pressure was rewarded when Alan Dzagoev's cross was headed back across goal by Vasili Berezutski to Aleksei Berezutski. His header found the foot of Wernbloom, and the substitute guided the ball home just before the final whistle.
Real Madrid have reason to feel confident heading back to the Bernabeu, where they have not lost to any team aside from Barcelona, and they have the crucial away goal in hand.
What did you think of today's games? Impressed with Napoli or disappointed with Chelsea? Confident Real Madrid can hold serve at home or can CSKA Moscow produce a shocking upset?
Share your thoughts below.