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Barcelona downs 10-man Chelsea

PARIS, FEB. 24. The controversial sending off of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba saw Barcelona come back from 1-0 down to beat the English Premiership leader 2-1 in their Champions League first knockout round first leg clash.

Chelsea's defeat on Wednesday was somewhat softened by the fact it has an away goal whereas Manchester United lost 1-0 to AC Milan at Old Trafford — Hernan Crespo on loan from Chelsea — scoring the goal after a dreadful error by United 'keeper Roy Carroll.

Puzzling statement

However the atmosphere for the second leg of the Chelsea-Barca tie in London looks sure to be high octane stuff after the English club issued a puzzling statement after the match.

``We (Chelsea) are making a complaint about an incident which happened at half-time. There will be no comment until the report has gone in to UEFA. Nobody from the Chelsea management will be coming out to speak to the media.''

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was seen running down the tunnel at half-time after referee Anders Frisk shouting at the Swede: ``You are not allowed to do that.''

It was thought to be referring to Barca coach Frank Rijkaard saying hello to Frisk at half-time and alleging that the referee was in the Barca dressing room.

Mourinho's former team, and reigning champion FC Porto, was held 1-1 at home by Milan's city rival Inter while French champion Lyon was the night's most impressive victor with a 3-0 win at German champion Werder Bremen.

Chelsea took the lead against the run of play when Frank Lampard's long ball found Damien Duff and the pass across goal from the Irish winger was turned into his own net by Juliano Belletti.

Drogba should have put the visitor 2-0 up a few minutes later when he broke the offside trap but he snatched at his shot and it went wide.

Drogba, though, was to leave the scene early in the second-half when he was judged to have been too robust in challenging for the ball with goalkeeper Victor Valdes and was sent off for a second bookable offence, though the Ivorian appeared to have lowered his foot by the time he collided with the guardian.

Chelsea could not prevent Barca from scoring twice in six minutes as first substitute Maxi Lopez and then African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o — with his 21st of the season — turned the game round.

How Chelsea could have done with the striking skills of Crespo as the Argentinian, sent on-loan by the Blues to AC Milan last summer, scored to give the Italian giants an invaluable 1-0 victory over Manchester United.

The results (home teams first):

FC Porto 1 (Ricardo Costa), Inter Milan 1 (Obafemi Martins).

Barcelona 2 (Maxi Lopez, Samuel Eto'o), Chelsea 1 (Juliano Belletti).

Werder Bremen 0, Lyon 3 (Sylvain Wiltord, Mahamadou Diarra, Juninho Pernambucano).

Manchester United 0, AC Milan 1 (Hernan Crespo). — Agencies

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