It was the beginning of the game in Basel that set a pattern Chelsea could not eventually overcome according to Petr Cech, speaking after the 1-0 defeat in the fifth Champions League group stage match.
It wasn’t until 86 minutes had been played that the Chelsea keeper was eventually beaten, by Mohamed Salah’s finish, but he had been called upon to make a series of saves in the first half by the Swiss champions, who had threatened from the very first minute.
The result in the other group E game, on the back of three straight wins in the competition for Jose Mourinho’s team which were sandwiched between two losses to Basel, put us through to the knockout stages, but first place in the table is yet to be decided and on a night when we came to win, there was dissatisfaction with how the game panned out.
‘It was down to the start,’ Cech said.
‘We didn’t start well and that gave lots of confidence and ambition to the home side. They are rightly in the Champions League and if you give the opponent the feeling that they can do it then you can have a very hard game.
‘As bad as we started the game, it continued for 45 minutes. We didn’t play well in the first half.
‘In the second half we improved, there were situations when we could have scored but it was the last touch that was missing, and a few times in good positions somebody lost their footing or things like that.
‘But the only positive thing is we qualified. Sometimes you have to have 10 points to go through and sometimes nine points make you qualified.’
Cech joined his manager in paying complements to a Basel side who became the first to beat the Blues both home and away in the group stage.
‘They played very well,’ he said.
‘In both games they played to their maximum. In the end we conceded the goal right at the end after waiting for a substitution but it doesn’t take anything away from the Basel performance.’