Juventus 3-0 Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo took a gamble on Chelsea's Champions League survival which spectacularly backfired against the Italian Champions in Turin.
Choosing an untried defensively-heavy formation with no out-and-out striker, plus a right back in midfield, Blues lacked the creativity, the bite, and even the ball control to prevent humbling disintegration when steel was what was needed.
Fernando Torres, the cause of so many frustrations of late, was benched: in favour of Eden Hazard as a 'false nine', and Cesar Azpilicueta out of position.
There were occasions in the first half when it looked like it might almost work, but for the most part Chelsea were out-played and clueless about it.
The hosts had an outstanding early chance, when a cross-area ball found Stephan Lichtsteiner on the left side of Chelsea's box. He attempted to bunde it in, but Petr Cech forced it, majestically, onto the post.
Chelsea had an equally decent chance at the other end moments later, as Hazard approached from the Blues' right to apparently shoot through Gianluigi Buffon's legs – the ball deflecting off the inside of the keeper's knee and into the side-netting.
But the opening half would be characterised by wave after wave of Juventus attacks, and save after save from Cech.
The pressure paid off seven minutes before the break: Fabio Quagliarella with a low, bobbling shot from outside the area that seemed to leave Cech blind-sided by his own defence. The stand-in captain dived late, getting fingertips, but not enough to the ball as it passed him into the net.
It could have been two a minute later: but Ashley Cole was there to clear the ball of the line – as he has so many times in the past.
Shortly after the break, Juventus appealed for a penalty as Mirko Vucinic clashed with Gary Cahill in the box. Replays showed Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir made just the right call in waving play-on, and could even have been justified in booking Vucinic for simulation.
But constant pressure saw the Italian champions double their lead just after the hour.
Kwadwo Asamoah, entering the box on Chelsea's right, cut the ball back to Arturo Vidal on the edge – who fired past Cech.
At 2-0 Chelsea still looked the less likely team to score as they laboured to get at the ball. Perspiration turned to despration, when Di Matteo threw on Fernando Torres for John Mikel Obi. He was going hell for leather in more ways than once.
Chelsea had very little extra in their quivver, and it was their hosts who scored again at the last: Sebastian Giovinco beating Cech to a one-on-one well out of the box.
If they are to go through, Chelsea now must beat Nordsjaelland in their last group game at Stamford Bridge, and hope that Shakhtar Donetsk beat Juventus at the Donbass Arena.
Failing that, Thursday nights in Makhachkala will swiftly become a pressing reality.