Friedrich stunned Chelsea with a powerful, last-gasp header to
secure a 2-1 victory to send Bayer Leverkusen into the last 16
of the Champions League on Wednesday and leave the visiting
Londoners still with work to do in their final game.
Didier Drogba had fired Chelsea ahead with a low drive three
minutes into the second half but substitute Eren Derdiyok
levelled with a far-post header in the 73rd minute.
That was still looking a good result for Chelsea but they
lost their concentration from a stoppage-time corner when
Friedrich connected with a solid header.
Germany's Leverkusen, who face Genk in their last group
match in December, top the group on nine points, one ahead of
Chelsea and Valencia and are guaranteed progress because of
their record against both Chelsea and the Spaniards, who
thrashed Genk 7-0 on Wednesday.
A win for Chelsea against Valencia at Stamford Bridge or a
goalless draw would send them through while a score draw or
defeat would see the Spaniards into the last 16.
"It is always a bit lucky if you score in the last minute but
we believed in it, we have a young team," Leverkusen's Ballack
said after victory over his former club.
"During the game I didn't feel we believed that we could win
the game. Chelsea felt that and got stronger and scored and
deserved it , but then we had nothing to lose, we risked a bit
more and I think we deserved the victory."
After seeing his expensive side fall to a fourth defeat in
seven games in all competitions, Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas
said: "We had a big chance to go 2-0 up but our focus must be on
Valencia now. It will be a good head to head battle.
"We were compact and disciplined until the last moment. In
this competition if you make a mistake you pay a heavy price."
After a mediocre first half where Ballack, marking his 100th
international appearance with what turned into a command
performance, hit the crossbar with a header, Chelsea took a
deserved lead early in the second half when Drogba turned well
in the box to score with a low shot.
However the hosts, beaten finalists 10 seasons ago, forced
their way back into the game and levelled with a well-crafted
goal for substitute Derdiyok a minute after coming on.
They then sent their fans wild when Chelsea fell asleep at a
corner and Friedrich rose high to strike at the death.
"We've been suffering a lot, conceding a lot of goals, but we
haven't conceded from a corner for a long time - I think that
was the first time," said Villas-Boas.
"We were compact and disciplined in set plays but one detail
in the last moment... we need to get the concentration and focus
right. No excuses - if we have to go one more step up that's
what we have to do."
Delighted Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said his players
deserved the win after delivering a passionate performance.
"Just like against Valencia we turned around a game," he
told reporters. "That shows character and the quality of our
team. We will try to hold on to top spot in Genk."
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