Champions League

Chelsea take down Marseille

2010-09-28 22:48
John Terry (AP)

London - Chelsea returned to form in convincing fashion with a 2-0 victory over French champions Marseille in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side had suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season at Manchester City on Saturday just days after crashing out of the League Cup against Newcastle.

But there was no prolonged hangover from those setbacks as the English champions brushed aside Marseille at Stamford Bridge thanks to an early goal from John Terry and Nicolas Anelka's first half penalty.

The win left Chelsea top of Group F ahead of Spartak Moscow on goal difference after two games of their latest bid to win Europe's elite club competition for the first time.

Despite his lack of new signings during the close-season, Ancelotti this week insisted his squad has enough strength in depth to cope with the demands of challenging for the Champions League and Premier League.

With Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun injured and Didier Drogba serving a suspension, Ancelotti will be relieved his understudies seized the opportunity to prove him right and end the club's recent blip.

The Italian handed French teenager Gael Kakuta his European debut, while Russia's Yuri Zhirkov came in for Ramires in midfield.

Marseille's vociferous band of travelling supporters subjected French stars Anelka and Florent Malouda to some ferocious abuse in the opening moments.

But Malouda clearly wasn't bothered by the taunts as he worked spaced in the penalty area for a shot that Steve Mandanda pushed away for a corner.

From the resulting Kakuta set-piece, Chelsea took a seventh minute lead as Terry squeezed a flicked shot past a dismal attempt to clear from Benoit Cheyrou at the near post.

Terry's first goal since March seemed to knock Marseille completely out of their stride and Malouda threatened again when he battled his way past two defenders before driving over the bar.

Anelka was next to pierce the Marseille defence as he surged clear of Stephane Mbia, only to shoot straight at Mandanda.

Didier Deschamps' side occasionally caused Chelsea a few nervous moments with their smooth build-up play, but they lacked the cutting edge to break through and, crucially, always looked jittery at the back.

Anelka slammed the door on their hopes of a comeback in the 28th minute.

When Mbia blocked Michael Essien's cross with his arm, Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere pointed for a penalty and Anelka calmly stroked the spot-kick past Mandanda.

If that decision was slightly harsh on Marseille, there was no doubt that Chelsea deserved to be well ahead as Anelka and Malouda were causing constant problems with their fluid movement.

Former Chelsea midfielder Deschamps sent on Andre Ayew and Mathieu Valbuena in a bid to spark his side into life soon after half-time.

But it was Chelsea who were inches away from scoring again as Alex's blistering long-range strike cannoned off a post. Anelka tried to convert the rebound but couldn't glance his header past Mandanda.

Then Essien hit the woodwork as well soon after with a side-footed effort from the edge of the area.

Those near-misses were never likely to come back to haunt Chelsea as Ancelotti's team cruised home with the minimum of fuss.

Read more on:    chelsea  |  cl  |  john terry  |  carlo ancelotti  |  nicolas anelka
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