NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21: Ezequiel Lavezzi of Napoli shoots past the tackle from Gary Cahill of Chelsea to level the scores at 1-1 in the first half during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between SSC Napoli and Chelsea FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 21, 2012 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

UEFA Champions League: Napoli Defeat Chelsea 3-1

Juan Mata put Chelsea in front early, but Napoli scored the next three. Earlier, Real Madrid drew CSKA Moscow.

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Napoli Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Cavani And Lavezzi Lead Partenopei Past Chelsea, 3-1

Chelsea's continued struggles have been all over the headlines, and after suffering a 3-1 loss in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, they will continue to be. The real story on Tuesday, though, was the fantastic play of Napoli.

To be specific, it was the fantastic play of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi that sent an already raucous Stadio San Paolo into delirium. They were part of all three Napoli goals in a thorough 3-1 win that has the Partenopei eyeing a spot in the quarterfinals.

It took all of 10 minutes for Napoli to beat the Blues' defense. Cavani ran straight in behind the backline with Gary Cahill the one caught out for the second time in the young match. The Uruguayan gathered the ball and had a fantastic opportunity to put the home side in front early, but Petr Cech did well to get off of his line and make a fine save to keep the match scoreless.

Chelsea entered the match with their fair share of injuries at the back, with John Terry out and set to undergo surgery and Ashley Cole on the bench battling an injury of his own. Things got worse in the 11th minute when Jose Bosingwa did his hamstring in stretching to reach a ball and immediately signaled to the bench that he had to come off. That forced manager Andre Villas-Boas to turn to the injured Cole and the Blues' shaky defense got that much worse.

Napoli continued to pressure in the early going, but all it took was one mistake and they found themselves behind. Daniel Sturridge played in a hopeful ball that should not have troubled the defense too much, but Paolo Cannavaro shanked his clearance and the ball fell right to Juan Mata in front of the goal. The Spaniard was only too happy to take advantage, poking the ball past Morgan De Sanctis to give the Blues a 1-0 lead and, more importantly, a vital away goal.

Deserved or not, Chelsea were ahead and their goal certainly shocked Napoli. They were on the back foot and the Blues surged forward. Five minutes after going in front, Chelsea almost doubled their lead. David Luiz got free for a straight-away header at goal from six yards out, but he somehow put the ball over the bar and the visitors' lead remained at just one goal.

Chelsea would come to rue that miss in the 38th minute when Napoli equalized. Raul Meireles inexcusably failed to track Lavezzi and when Cahill did not step forward to close him down, the Napoli man was in plenty of space atop the box. Never afraid to have a go when presented the opportunity, Lavezzi struck the ball well and beat Cech with a good, low shot for an equalizer that caused Stadio San Paolo to erupt.

If the stadium was deafening after Lavezzi's goal, then the noise level was downright dangerous just before halftime. Branislav Ivanovic apparently thought the halftime whistle had gone because he fell asleep and allowed Cavani to get to the back post without a marker. There, Gökhan Inler's pass found Cavani and the striker knocked the ball over the line to put Napoli in front less than 20 minutes after falling behind.

With their goal just before halftime and a new lead fueling them, Napoli burst out of the gate in the second half and almost added another goal within 10 minutes. Cavani did well to hold the ball and draw the defense before sliding the ball across for Lavezzi, but the Argentinean's shot skipped wide of the post.

Cavani gave Lavezzi another chance, though, and this time he would not miss. In the 65th minute, Hugo Campagnaro played a fantastic ball over the top to a streaking Cavani. Luiz came across and beat Cavani to the ball, but his weak clearance just bounced off Cavani's chest and into the striker's path. Cech had come rushing out and when Cavani gathered the ball again, he was in no man's land. Cavani dribbled and dribbled, pulling Cech all the way out to the top of the box before playing the ball across to Lavezzi. With the entire goal to shoot at, Lavezzi wasn't going to drag this shot wide and he didn't, putting it in the back of the net for a 3-1 Napoli advantage.

Ahead by two goals, Napoli should have gone on cruise control, but that isn't their way. They continued to attack, almost to their own peril as twice Chelsea got the ball in front of goal and turned to scrum in front to find a goal, but Napoli was able to clear both time. Nicolò Frustalupi didn't help Napoli's case, either. Serving as manager for the night with Walter Mazzarri suspensed, Frustalupi oddly subbed on Blerim Dzemaili for Lavezzi and Goran Pandev for Marek Hamsik, making things all the more difficult for the home side.

With their continued attack, Napoli almost added to the lead once more in the 81st minute. A ball came across from the left and found Christian Maggio with Cech well out of the play. Maggio seemingly had an easy finish to extend Napoli's lead by another goal, but the ailing Cole managed to make a spectacular clearance off of the goal line and the Blues remained just a goal down.

In the end, Chelsea threw men forward in hopes of getting one more away goal, but it wasn't to be. A cross from Cole was just barely behind Didier Drogba, De Sanctis got down to deny a Frank Lampard attempt, and Napoli made several good clearances to stay two goals up heading to the second leg in London.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Napoli Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Partenopei Lead At Halftime

It's been an incredibly exciting and eventful first 45 minutes at Stadio San Paolo, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, neither Chelsea or Napoli has been able to get through the first half with a clean sheet intact. Napoli lead 2-1 at halftime of the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie, with Juan Mata, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani scoring the goals. There's been some great attacking play and some terrible defending on both ends, and there easily could have been more goals.

Hugo Campagnaro and Didier Drogba had an early collision, resulting in a fountain of blood forming on Campagnaro's forehead. He was given some sort of odd hairnet contraption that struggled to control the bleeding, and he'll probably have some kind of treatment at halftime to sort that out.

Edinson Cavani had the first great chance of the match in the 10th minute, but Petr Cech rose to the occasion and made a brilliant save. Gökhan Inler set up the chance with a brilliant ball over the top, which Cavani ran onto. He put a shot on target, but Cech did well to kick it away.

Shortly afterwards, Jose Bosingwa pulled up with an injured hamstring. He requested a substitution immediately, and was replaced by Ashley Cole.

Napoli continued to push forward and looked like the better team for most of the first half hour of the match, but Chelsea found a goal against the run of play, partially thanks to some terrible defending. Daniel Sturridge created it with a cross into the box, but the real assist came from a botched clearance by Paolo Cannavaro. He inadvertently headed the ball right into the path of Juan Mata, who finished to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

Cannavaro would have a couple of other errors before the end of the half, giving David Luiz a free header on a corner and Ramires a free shot on goal late in the half as well. Luckily for him, two of the three chances he gave up were missed and his attack bailed him out late in the half.

Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the equalizer in the 38th minute, and Raul Meireles will probably have to deal with some criticism from his manager for his lack of defending. He gave Lavezzi all kinds of time and space to cut in from the left to the center of the pitch, then curl a 20-yard shot past Cech at his far post.

It appeared as if the two teams would head into halftime tied, but in the second minute of first half stoppage time, Cavani put his team ahead. He'd been dangerous throughout the half, and his goal was no more than he deserved for his first half efforts. Inler played a cross in from the right and Cavani got free at the back post, nudging the ball into the net with his shoulder as Branislav Ivanovic was left helpless.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Napoli Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Juan Mata Goal Has Blues Ahead

Napoli have had the best of the chances in the early going and have put Chelsea on the back foot, but the Blues have taken an early lead at Stadio San Paolo thanks to some poor defending and a terrible error by defender Paolo Cannavaro. The Blues have their away goal through Juan Mata very much against the run of play, and lead 1-0 in the first half.

In the 27th minute, Daniel Sturridge played a ball into the penalty area that didn't have any clear targets. Incredibly, Cannavaro failed to deal with it and it took an odd deflection off his head. That deflection caused the ball to land right into the path of Juan Mata, who suddenly had a one-on-one with Morgan de Sanctis. He buried the chance, and Chelsea have a lead that is very surprising based on the way the game started.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Jose Bosingwa Injury: Chelsea Defender Injures Hamstring, Comes Off

Jose Bosingwa, normally a right back, started at left back against Napoli as a precautionary measure. The Chelsea defender has been in as a replacement for Ashley Cole, who is just coming back from an injury. Cole recovered enough to make the 18-man squad for Chelsea's UEFA Champions League game against Napoli, but was kept out of the team. Just 10 minutes into the game, Andre Villas-Boas has been forced into a change.

Bosingwa pulled up lame on a run, clutching his hamstring, and instantly asked for a substitution. This means that Cole, 90 minutes fit or not, had to get up off the bench much earlier than expected and come into the match. Chelsea now have a natural left back and a more experienced player in the game, but one that may or may not be fit enough to bring his best for the entire match.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Napoli Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Lineups

Chelsea are without John Terry and Ashley Cole for their UEFA Champions League match against Napoli, and their places will taken by Jose Bosingwa and Gary Cahill as expected. Chelsea's front line is also as expected, but there are a few surprises for the Blues. Both Ramires and Raul Meireles will start, while Michael Essien is on the bench. Oriol Romeu does not make the 18-man squad. Napoli's lineup is without any serious surprises, with Salvatore Aronica's selection ahead of Miguel Britos the biggest decision of note.

Napoli starting lineup (3-4-2-1): Morgan de Sanctis; Salvatore Aronica, Paolo Cannavaro, Hugo Campagnaro; Juan Zuñiga, Walter Gargano, Gökhan Inler, Christian Maggio; Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik; Edinson Cavani.

Substitutes from: Antonio Rosati, Gianluca Grava, Andrea Dossena, Federico Fernandez, Blerim Dzemaili, Miguel Britos, Goran Pandev

Chelsea starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Jose Bosingwa, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Ramires, Raul Meireles; Florent Malouda, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge; Didier Drogba.

Substitutes from: Ross Turnbull, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres, Salomon Kalou, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT and 8:45 p.m. local time. You can catch it on FOX Soccer Channel in the USA, Sportsnet regional networks in Canada and Sky Sports 2 in the UK.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


CSKA Moscow Vs. Real Madrid, 2012 UEFA Champions League: CSKA Snatch A Late Draw

Real Madrid only have one away goal heading to the Santiago Bernabeu, but they could have had more. CSKA Moscow backup goalkeeper Sergei Chepchugov and the CSKA back line had solid games, doing enough to keep their side in the match for the entire game. It appeared heading to stoppage time that CSKA would be facing an impossible task at the Santiago Bernabeau, but a late equalizer gave them a 1-1 draw and a chance in the second leg.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored Madrid's only goal in the 28th minute. Fabio Coentrao provided the assist with a cross, which Zoran Tosic failed to clear. He inadvertently nodded the ball to Ronaldo, who struck a precise half-volley with his left foot into the back of the net.

Madrid's best chances other than the goal came just before that, in the 16th minute. After Karim Benzema was forced out of the game with an injury, substitute striker Gonzalo Higuain forced a save out of Chepchugov with his first touch of the ball. The rebound fell to Sami Khedira, and Chepchugov made an even better save on him to keep Madrid off the scoreboard at the time.

With a 1-0 lead on the road, Madrid looked to keep more possession and attack a bit less in the second half of the match. CSKA Moscow got out on the counter on a few occasions, but Sergio Ramos and Pepe had good games and kept Iker Casillas from being tested until the final seconds. In classic Jose Mourinho fashion, Madrid did well to shut up shop, but they would concede at the death.

The goal came in the 93rd minute on a free kick. Coentrao committed a handball outside of the penalty area, giving CSKA one last chance at an equalizer. Sekou Oliseh took the free kick and Sergei Ignashevich got his head to it, nodding it into a dangerous area. Pontus Wernbloom was waiting and struck a half-volley past Casillas, scoring on his debut to give CSKA a miracle draw.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.


CSKA Moscow Vs. Real Madrid, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo Goal Has Madrid Up At Halftime

Real Madrid lead CSKA Moscow 1-0 at halftime of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16, first leg match at the Luzhniki Stadium, meaning the hosts are in some serious trouble. No matter how the second 45 minutes goes, they're already in some trouble for giving up an away goal. If they don't force a draw in this match, their Champions League run will be all but over before they head to the Santiago Bernabeu, and they need a win to like their chances in the second leg.

CSKA actually created the first real attack of the game, with left back Georgy Shennikov putting in a dangerous cross in the 7th minute. Alan Dzagoev had to make an adjustment to be able to get a shot off, but didn't get himself turned all the way around and fired a left-footed volley wide of the goal.

Karim Benzema got off his first shot in the 14th minute, and that shot would be his last. He picked up an upper leg injury, either a groin or thigh, while taking the shot and had to come off injured. In a display of Madrid's embarrassment of riches, he was replaced by Gonzalo Higuain, who actually has one more goal in all competitions than the in-form French international.

Higuain almost scored with his first kick of the ball. In the 17th minute, he unleashed a great shot at Sergei Chepchugov, who got down well and saved. The rebound fell to Sami Khedira and Chepchugov did brilliantly to get across his goal and make an even better save on Khedira to preserve his clean sheet.

That clean sheet eventually fell in the 28th minute with Cristiano Ronaldo's goal. Fabio Coentrao created the chance with a cross, which was dealt with poorly by Zoran Tosic. The winger's poor clearance fell right to Ronaldo, who hit a left-footed half-volley past Chepchugov to give his team the lead.

CSKA have looked threatening on the counter on plenty of occasions, but haven't tested Iker Casillas. Madrid are doing well to keep the ball, and with a 1-0 lead on the road, they might be content to keep possession in the second half.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.


CSKA Moscow Vs. Real Madrid, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo Goal Puts Los Blancos Ahead

Cristiano Ronaldo has his 36th goal in 35 games his season, as well as his 120th goal in 122 games for Real Madrid. More importantly, he has an away goal for Madrid against CSKA Moscow, who are going to need to score twice to feel like they have any chance of advancing at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg. Los Blancos lead 1-0 at the Luzhniki Stadium, and it's well deserved based on their play.

Fabio Coentrao set up the goal with a cross in the 28th minute, but it should have been dealt with much more comfortably by CSKA. Coentrao's cross fell to Zoran Tosic, who tried to clear the ball away with his head but only succeeded in heading the ball directly to Ronaldo. He hit a great half-volley with his left foot from 15 yards and put it past Sergei Chepchugov at the far post, giving Madrid the lead. The shot was a good one, but was within the reach of Chepchugov, and it's not unreasonable to say that Igor Akinfeev might have gotten a hand to it.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.


Karim Benzema Injury: Real Madrid Forward Leaves Game Vs. CSKA Moscow

Well, we can only hope that this one is simply precautionary and not serious. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been replaced by Gonzalo Higuain after just 16 minutes of play. In the 14th minute, Benzema chested down a ball from Sami Khedira and took a shot that went off target. He appeared to injure his thigh or groin while taking the shot and went down. The trainer came out and signaled to the Madrid bench that Benzema would have to exit the game.

Thankfully for Jose Mourinho, he has the luxury of having a guy like Higuain on his bench. The Argentinian international actually hit the target and forced a save with his first kick of the ball. Benzema has 13 goals in all competitions this year while Higuain has 14, but the Frenchman has been in slightly better form as of late.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.


Napoli Vs. Chelsea, 2012 Champions League Round Of 16: Can These Teams Defend Each Other?

Chelsea and Napoli present matchup nightmares for each other, so expect goals.

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