Monday, September 20, 2010

MSK Zilina 1-4 Chelsea


Chelsea went within one goal of the 150 mark in the Champions League with a comfortable win over Zilina to start our European campaign tonight.
A Nicolas Anelka brace added to Michael Essien's opener before Daniel Sturridge made it four in the second half on a night when Josh McEachran made his debut.
It wasn't the best of performances in defence, as Zilina were gifted a goal in the second half, but plenty of early strikes meant they couldn't come back from a three-goal deficit.
Carlo Ancelotti had John Terry at his disposal, despite a premature ending to his weekend game against West Ham. He was the only player in tonight's line-up who took part in the last meeting between these two sides.
Frank Lampard, who played in the previous encounter, was still recovering from hernia surgery and like Ashley Cole didn't travel. The left-back was rested.
Yury Zhirkov replaced Cole at left-back and was one of three maiden starts in this campaign alongside Yossi Benayoun in midfield and Daniel Sturridge on right wing.
Having won the last eight opening clashes in the Champions League, Chelsea began this one with the usual zeal, although it was Zilina who threatened first when Zhirkov gifted Emil Rilke possession inside the box.
Chelsea retaliated with three chances inside the first 10 minutes. Benayoun's searching cross from the left was cleared before finding Florent Malouda, then Sturridge worked hard to release a pass in front of goal for the same man, again only for it to be cleared.
Benayoun forced the first save of the game when his corner was returned and the subsequent shot dipped towards the far right. Martin Dubravka was on hand to deny the Israeli.
Then, with 13 minutes gone, Chelsea took the lead when Nicolas Anelka made a ground-breaking run towards the box and pulled the ball back for Michael Essien at full sprint to smash home.
Cech was then forced into action, preventing a Robert Jez freekick from finding the bottom right while at full stretch.
An organised Zilina continued to push forward and Cech was called to make another save, preventing a Babatounde Bello header finding the net. It was end-to-end football.
Soon it would be 2-0. This time Anelka took his chance and drilled a left-footed, low shot into the net after Malouda fed his fellow Frenchman with a clever pass over the Zilina defence.
That was with 24 minutes played; four later it was 3-0. This time a Malouda corner found Terry, whose subsequent header ricocheted off the bar and into Anelka's path for our number 39 to easily tap home for his second.
Despite the scoreline, the Zilina crowd kept cheering, while the Chelsea representatives did the club proud in the corner, and with them spurring the side on, soon it was nearly four when Terry sent a brilliant pass to Zhirkov who in turn laid the ball off for Malouda, only for the shot to be deflected away from danger.
Cech's lightning quick reactions stopped an Admir Vladavic long-range effort from finding its target before a follow-up Bello header strayed wide just before half time.
There were no changes as the second half got under way and within minutes of the restart Sturridge, playing as central striker, broke through onto a superb Benayoun through ball to calmly slot past Dubravka.
We were well on the way to equalling our highest win in the Champions League, when we beat Galatasaray 5-0 back in 1999.
But then errors in the box gifted Zilina a goal. When Cech tipped a shot away and onto Ivanovic's head, the subsequent rebound fell goal-ward, and Oravec found the net. It was 4-1 after 55 minutes.
The goal spurred Zilina into further action and soon a Vladavic shot flew inches wide of a fully-stretched Cech.
With the four-goal lead established, Sturridge made way for Gael Kakuta on the hour mark while Zilina replaced Momodou Ceesay for Tomas Majtan.
The youngster got straight into the game and nearly set up Anelka with a brilliant run which cut straight through the Zilina back line. Unfortunately Anelka was deemed offside but Kakuta's intent had been shown.
Meanwhile, the Chelsea back line were struggling to deal with Zilina's attack. It was not the greatest performance from Chelsea's back line, although they were doing enough to keep the host's score at one.
With 78 minutes gone, Ancelotti brought 17-year-old Josh McEachran into the game for his debut. He replaced Benayoun in midfield while Zilina took Lubomir Guldan off for Stanislav Angelovic.
Dubravka failed to hold onto a screaming 30-yard shot from Essien, which resulted in a Chelsea throw-in. That in turn led to Malouda breaking into the box only to be cut down and appeal for a penalty, which wasn't given.
It was the last chance for Malouda because with two minutes left he made way for Patrick van Aanholt.
Zilina would have one more chance on goal with a freekick from 20 yards out before the final whistle, but the game ended as a comfortable start to our Champions League campaign.
By Christian Collison
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry (c), Zhirkov; Essien, Mikel, Benayoun (McEachran 78); Sturridge (Kakuta 61), Anelka, Malouda (van Aanholt 87).
Unused subs Turnbull, Ramires, Ferreira, Kalou.
Goals Essien 13, Anelka 24, 28, Sturridge 48
Zilina (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Guldan (Angelovic 78), Piacek, Pecalka, Mraz; Jez (c), Bello; Rilke (Poliacek 57), Ceesay (Majtan 61), Vladavic; Oravec.
Unused subs Krnac, Leitner, Sourek, Vittor.
Goal Oravec 55
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)
Attendance: 10,829
Shots on target Zilina 4 Chelsea 6
Fouls Zilina 6 Chelsea 7
Corners Zilina 3 Chelsea 4
Offsides Zilina 4 Chelsea 4

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