Roma 3-0 Chelsea: Antonio Conte suffers haunting return to Italy as Stephan El Shaarawy double and Diego Perotti strike sinks Premier League champions


Antonio Conte fiddled but Roma were on fire and Chelsea picked a fine time to spontaneously combust. This was not what Conte had in mind on his first competitive return to the Italian capital.
His team were a goal down in 38 seconds, two down by half-time and trailing by three early in the second-half.
The final score might easily have been more of an embarrassment had it not been for some fine saves by Thibaut Courtois.
Stephan El Shaarawy scored the first two, both brilliantly finished yet so poorly defended by Chelsea, who simply could not contain the threat of Edin Dzeko for the second time in this European campaign.
There are injuries in key areas of the squad eating away but it is hard to equate this display with the unit Conte had so well-drilled last season.
From the first minute to the last they were devoid of shape and composure at the back and poorly protected in midfield.
For good measure, they were wasteful up front but defensively they were brutally exposed by Roma who have plundered six in 180 minutes against Chelsea.
Diego Perotti grabbed the third before missing the clearest chance of the game, firing over when totally unmarked in front of goal.
Courtois stopped Roma running riot, including one fabulous reflex save to deny Kostas Manolas from close range. It was so good that Manolas shook the goalkeeper by the hand.
Chelsea remain well placed to qualify the last 16, mainly thanks to Atletico Madrid’s inability to beat Qarabag, the unfancied minnows from Azerbaijan.
‘The second-half was really bad,’ said Conte. ‘Roma showed more desire to first and win the game. I am disappointed for our second half. We all have to take the responsibility.
‘When you concede three goals you need to be worried because it means something doesn’t work. It’s very difficult to tell what this is but for sure we have analyse the game and we need to work on the tactical aspect.’
But their careless habits at the back will infuriate Conte’s attempt at another defensive shuffle, swapping Gary Cahill to the right and Antonio Rudiger to the left and moving Cesar Azpilicueta to wing-back, again, soon backfired.
Courtois made the save, blocking from El Shaarawy and cleared the corner which followed but the Londoners were still out of sorts when Radja Nainggolan tested their defensive capabilities with another long pass from the left.
Rudiger seemed set to tidy it up but dithered and allowed it to bounce, while Azpilicueta was beaten in a sprint by El Shaarawy, who poked at a shot with his right foot to beat Courtois.
Still, Chelsea enjoyed good chances to reduce the deficit. Alisson saved from Marcos Alonso and Bakayoko headed wide from a corner.
Early in the second half and Conte replaced captain Cahill with Willian. Cue more shuffling around but no sooner had Pedro shifted into the role of wing-back than Perotti glided inside and sent a third skidding past Courtois from the edge of the penalty area.
Chelsea’s attacking threat faded after the break. They were on the back-foot, striving to keep the score down and Conte’s substitutions did nothing to change that.
Back in the Italian capital, he came, he saw, he conceded three just as Luiz Felipe Scolari did when Chelsea were beaten here 3-1 nine years ago. And he flew home with some serious work to do before Manchester United on Sunday.


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