Saturday started with the incredibly sad news of the death of David Rocastle. The minute’s silence before kick-off was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters. Once the match started it took a while for it to really come to life. Boro were time-wasting from the start and Chelsea’s passing was below par.
The opening goal came late in the first half when a fine cross from Babayaro was met by a towering Gianfranco Zola header. Okay, so maybe Ôtowering’ is stretching it a bit, but it was still a great finish. The maestro celebrated with high-fives along the front row of the Matthew Harding stand.
Claudio Ranieri’s decision to switch to three strikers in the second half, with Gudjohnsen replacing Gronkjaer, looked like it had backfired when Dean Windass headed Boro level early on. The goal was earned by Boro’s more positive attitude.
Within another ten minutes though, Chelsea were back in front, and Ranieri’s half-time switch was justified. It was Gudjohnsen who capitalised on some sloppy Boro passing to restore the Blues’ lead with a well-taken finish.
So Chelsea’s European hopes are still alive but Blues fans are still praying that it will be through Uefa Cup, rather than InterToto, qualification.