Derby County 3-1 Chelsea

By Adrian Sherling

It was a team at their peak against a team struggling with morale and form. So, football being football, people sensed an upset. And an upset they got.

Rory Delaps incredible two goal haul gave Derby their first win in seven game, beating a Chelsea side for whom the phrase European hangover was invented. It is Chelseas third consecutive league loss since their 5-0 demolition job of Manchester United and their first ever loss at Pride Park.

Delaps goalscoring form has been the highlight of Derbys otherwise awful season and these goals made it five this season for the wing-back. His first was, quite simply a marvellous strike. With 10 mintues remaining, he strode forward, before curling a wonderful shot into the bottom corner, giving Ed De Goey no chance.

His second owed more to luck however. As Seth Johnson was tackled in the area, the ball broke to the full-back, now Derbys top scorer, and his shot was deflected past the helpless De Goey off substitute Bernard Lambourdes back.

It took just ten minutes at the end for Derby to win, just as it took them just seven minutes to open the scoring. Deon Burton scored the goal, the Rams first at home for 313 minutes, firing home from the edge of the area after some good work on the right by returning Argentinean Esteban Fuertes following his recent dismissal.

However, this Blues side are a more resilient bunch than they have been in recent seasons. Earlier in the week, Chelsea shocked Italian giants AC Milan by equalising just a couple of minutes after going behind.

They did the same again four days later as Frank Leboeuf got them back on level terms, this time just 2 minutes later. The French defender somehow found himself as the most advanced player and, latching onto a ball over the defence, he fired the ball hard and true into the roof of the net.

The Derby side that we have seen recently the one that has not won in six would have given up disillusioned at that time. But Derby today looked to have some belief in themselves, although where it has come from no one is quite sure.

By the time the referee blew for half-time, Derby should have been three goals ahead and it could have been even more. Deon Burton, winning his personal duel with Frank Leboeuf, missed a hat-trick of simple looking chances. He must have been wondering what he had done to lady luck. Maybe he ran over her cat.

Firstly, he miscontrolled after getting on the blind side of Frank Leboeuf. He followed that with a lob that would have been converted by Fuertes had Leboeuf not flung himself towards it, to play it behind. His final miss of the half was also his closest. Rising to a cross, he directed a powerful header goalwards, only to see it come off the underside of the bar and bounce to safety.

Derby players were breathtaking in their creativity, but awful in their finishing. It was as if they had spotted David Mellor in row Z and were determined to bombard him with shots. Fuertes also got in the act a couple of minutes later.

Stefano Eranio showed a beautiful piece of skill, lobbing the ball over the Jody Morris, making his 50th league appearance for Chelsea, before sliding a raking pass to the Argentinean, but his shot again threatened those with the cheap tickets high in the stand.

If Derby were concerned that their shooting was as accurate as a tabloid rumour column, then Chelsea would have been far more worried with the injuries that they picked up, losing a centre-back on each side of the break.

Firstly, Jes Hogh limped off, followed by Frank Leboeuf, which will land the Blues with a defensive crisis ahead of their Champions League D-Day against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday night.

The second period continued in a similar vein, but chances were far more rare. Zola could have stolen it with 20 minutes to go as he streaked through the middle, but dragged his shot wide with just Russell Hoult to beat.

Derby: Hoult, Laursen (Prior 53), Carbonari, Schnoor, Eranio (Borbokis 75), Delap, Johnson, Powell, Dorigo, Fuertes (Morris 82), Burton.
Subs Not Used: Christie, Knight.
Booked: Schnoor, Burton.
Goals: Burton 7, Delap 80, 88.

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Leboeuf (Deschamps 53), Hogh (Lambourde 33), Babayaro, Poyet, Morris, Di Matteo, Ambrosetti (Harley 64), Sutton, Zola.
Subs Not Used: Flo, Cudicini.
Booked: Lambourde.
Goals: Leboeuf 10.
Att: 28,614
Ref: R Harris (Oxford).