BORDEAUX - A late Alou Diarra goal held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Girondins Bordeaux on Wednesday and denied last year's runners-up an early ticket to the Champions League first knockout phase. France midfielder Diarra headed home from a Yoann Gourcuff corner with seven minutes remaining to cancel out Nicolas Anelka's 60th-minute opener. Chelsea, who had England midfielder Frank Lampard sent off in the 86th minute, are now second in Group A with eight points from five matches, one point behind AS Roma, who won 3-1 at CFR Cluj. Bordeaux are third on seven points and travel to Roma in two weeks' time with Chelsea hosting Cluj. "The result is fair," Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told reporters. However, the Brazilian was furious at his players for having conceded a goal at a set piece. "I am very angry because we are usually strong on these set pieces, which we work on a lot during training. It is the first goal we concede from a corner since I have been in charge," he said. Scolari added he was not worried about his team's qualification. "We cannot be sure of topping the group ... but if we do not go through, I'll just have to go back to Brazil," he said with a smile. The hosts, who looked more lively in the opening stages of the game, had the first real chance when a Matthieu Chalme attempt from the edge of the box was parried by Petr Cech on 20 minutes. CLASSY GOURCUFF France playmaker Gourcuff was in a class of his own and had a 20-metre shot well saved by Cech six minutes later. Bordeaux's superiority in midfield frustrated the Premier League leaders and the Londoners had Ashley Cole, Lampard and John Terry already booked as the clock ticked past the half hour. At halftime, Chelsea had yet to muster a shot on Mathieu Valverde's goal while Bordeaux had already made seven attempts at the other end. However, Chelsea showed more composure when it mattered and went ahead on the hour when Bordeaux defender Franck Jurietti missed a back pass, allowing Anelka to intercept and race to the area before flicking the ball past Valverde. Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc added steel to his front line when he replaced midfielders Yoan Gouffran and Wendel with striker Fernando Cavenaghi and Gabriel Obertan respectively. In the 83rd minute, Bordeaux captain Diarra nodded in a Gourcuff corner at the near post to keep his side's chances of going through alive. The home side had even more hope in the dying minutes of the game after Lampard was shown the red card for a second bookable offence. But Chelsea regrouped in their half and held on. "We had to be very compact against such a side and we managed that," said Blanc. "It is already difficult to score when you're level against Chelsea, so when you are 1-0 down, it's harder. However, we are still alive and it is a good thing."
26 November 2008
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