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Chelsea bested by Napoli in Italy

Tue 21st, February 2012

Naples, Italy (Sports Network) - Chelsea's Champions League aspirations took a major hit on Tuesday as it suffered a 3-1 loss to Napoli in the first leg at the Stadio San Paolo.

The Blues opened the scoring through Juan Mata in the 27th minute but proceeded to surrender three unanswered goals as the visitors were picked were picked apart by Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Chelsea took the lead after a mistake in the center of defense helped Mata get through on goal.

Daniel Sturridge played a centering pass at the top of the box and Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro botched the clearance, letting the Spanish youngster collect possession before slipping a shot past Morgan De Sanctis.

Napoli responded before the halftime break to the tune of two goals as the lethal combination of Lavezzi and Cavani helped the home side get in front.

Lavezzi leveled the score in the 38th minute as the Argentine collected a pass from Cavani just outside the box. Lavezzi was given the freedom to advance the ball slightly before he curled a brilliant, uncontested effort past Petr Cech's far post.

Cavani then assumed the role of scorer just before the break as the Uruguayan met a cross at the back post and clipped the ball past Cech for his fifth goal of the Champions League season.

The duo connected for Napoli's third goal of the night in the 65th minute. Cavani tracked down a long ball and slipped by David Luiz. The Uruguayan attracted Cech out of position and played a square ball to Lavezzi, who calmly slotted the ball into the empty net for his second of the match.

Napoli will take a two-goal aggregate lead back to Stamford Bridge for the second leg on March 14. Chelsea's away goal gives the club a glimmer of hope to advance, but it will need at least a 2-0 win to advance to the quarterfinals.

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