Chelsea became the first English team to lose a Champions League game this season as they were well beaten by a clinical Roma.
The Blues would have progressed with a victory, but trailed within 39 seconds when Edin Dzeko flicked Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross down to Stephan El Shaarawy, who smashed home from 25 yards.
Alvaro Morata missed a huge chance to equalise from close range, and El Shaarawy made it 2-0 when ex-Roma defender Antonio Rudiger failed to deal with Radja Nainggolan’s long ball forward.
Chelsea had more shots – 14 to 13 – but were three behind when Diego Perotti cracked home from 20 yards after Blues defenders failed to close him down.
Roma should have led 4-0 when Chelsea’s defenders all ran to Dzeko, who managed to square to a totally unmarked Perotti, but he fired over when he should have finished.
Chelsea get it wrong at the back – again and again
Chelsea had hoped midfielder N’Golo Kante would be able to return from the hamstring injury which has kept him out for a month, but he did not feel fully fit and was left out.
And how the Blues missed him. David Luiz started in midfield in the reverse game – a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago – but played in defence at the Stadio Olimpico. Centre-back Gary Cahill replaced Davide Zappacosta from Saturday’s win over Bournemouth, meaning a reshuffle with Cesar Azpilicueta moving to the right.
They actually should have been 1-0 up – when Pedro shot straight at Alisson Becker – before El Shaarawy scored the sixth quickest Champions League goal of the past decade, following good work from ex-City pair Kolarov and Dzeko.
Chelsea had plenty of shots – but rarely looked like scoring, with the lively Hazard forcing two saves and shooting wide. Morata also missed a sitter and Marcos Alonso forced a good diving save with an effort from the corner of the box.
But the Blues – whose defending was praised last season – were error-ridden at the back. They should have conceded when Luiz made a mistake on the halfway line and El Shaarawy played in Dzeko, whose shot was saved.
They trailed 2-0 when Rudiger, a summer signing from the Italian side, let Nainggolan’s pass bounce and El Shaarawy took advantage to score past the onrushing Thibaut Courtois.
Things did not improve when Antonio Conte brought on Willian for captain Cahill, moving Pedro to the right – and the Spaniard let Perotti go past him with no other defenders shutting the Argentine down before he smashed in the third.
They were lucky not to concede again with defending resembling football seen on five-a-side pitches – or school yards – across the world. All three Chelsea centre-backs ran to Dzeko – with two men free in the centre but Perotti got it wrong.
Courtois denied Kostas Manolas’ header with a good reaction save as Chelsea were just glad to get off the pitch at the end.