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UEFA Champions League

  • November 23, 2010
  • • 19:45
  • • Stamford Bridge, London
  • Referee: R. Schörgenhofer
  • • Attendance: 40266

Chelsea 2-1 MSK Zilina: Malouda And Sturridge Spare Ancelotti’s Blushes After Issiaka Bello’s Shock Opener

Chelsea 2-1 MSK Zilina: Malouda And Sturridge Spare Ancelotti’s Blushes After Issiaka Bello’s Shock Opener

Blues nearly suffer defeat to minnows...

Chelsea’s young team were made to work for all three points against Champions League Group F whipping boys MSK Zilina as both Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda saved Carlo Ancelotti’s side from suffering one of the worst embarrassing defeats in their history.

The Stamford Bridge youngsters came out of the traps well, as they passed the ball about, gaining confidence in the opening minutes against the Group F whipping boys. First to look to go towards goal for the Blues was one of the more experienced players, in the shape of Didier Drogba who raced past three defenders before he was blocked from getting a shot on target.

Their opponents, however, did not look overawed by the players in the Chelsea shirts and with the backing of a loud and vocal 1,200 travelling support they started to head forward, looking to get in on Ross Turnbull’s goal. Their first attempt came when striker Thomas Majtan drove a ball across goal, which the Chelsea keeper was more than up to.

Quarter of an hour into the game, it looked to be bad news for the English champions, as Drogba was forced to leave the field after feeling the effects of a knock that he had sustaining minutes earlier.

With the Chelsea captain off the pitch, things were about to go from bad to worse for Carlo Ancelotti, as Zilina raced up the pitch with Issiaka Bello exchanging passes with Robert Jez, before making his way into the box and unleashing an unstoppable drive beyond Turnbull, to sent the travelling Slovakian support delirious with joy.

That strike was greeted by the home support with a deafening silence, which was nearly broken half an hour in, when Daniel Sturridge raced in from the right hand side, but rather than passing to Drogba, who had returned to the field, he decided to go for goal. But the young strikers shot didn’t trouble Martin Dubravka in the Zilina goal, as it rippled the outside of his left hand post.

The visitors could have been two goals ahead, when Majtan went untouched through the right of the Chelsea penalty area, before smashing towards goal, only for Turnbull to pull off a save and push the ball wide for a corner as Ancelotti’s side looked to get off the ropes.

From then on the Premier League champions dominated for the reminder of the half, as firstly Sturridge made Dubravka pull off a wonderful right handed save to prevent the Blues striker from scoring as he smashed the ball from the edge of the area.

It was half chances from there on for Chelsea, until just before the end of the first half when Florent Malouda rattled the ball towards the Zilina net from the edge of the box, but the home fans were left in despair as the ball cannoned off of a visiting defender and went wide to leave Stamford Bridge stunned at the break.

Chelsea started the second half a lot better, with Ancelotti bringing on Salomon Kalou to add depth to his frontline as they looked to over the one goal disadvantage, which they had gone into the break with.

It would only take five minutes of the second half for the Blues to get level, as Zilina kept sitting deeper and deeper. Ultimately they were punished when the Slovakian champions failed to clear a Kalou cross properly and it ended up at the feet of Sturridge, who tucked the ball by Dubravka to get Chelsea back, all square.

They continued to press from there on, looking to put their opponents to the sword, with firstly Drogba, whose bad touch let the striker down when presented with a golden chance after a cross from Sturridge landed at the Ivoirians’ feet.

Shortly after, it was Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who was next to have a strike at the Slovakian goal, but like many of his teammates, he could not give Chelsea a much deserved lead

On the hour mark the Premier League champions should have been ahead when Drogba hit a wonderful free kick from the left hand side park. But unfortunately for the stand-in Chelsea skipper, his strike was palmed away from danger Dubravka to keep his side in the game.

Chelsea kept up the pressure as Kalou and Malouda linked up together about passing to Drogba, who rather than passing to the unmarked Sturridge, ran into a cul-de-sac of Zilina defenders who tried to clear. But their attempt ended with Sturridge gaining the ball, before trying to place the ball into the corner of the net. But the striker was left frustrated as the ball sailed wide.

With twenty minutes left the home side had their best shot of the night as Partick Van Aanholt unleashed a 20 yard strike, from the left hand side of the box which left the frame of Dubravka’s goal shaking for seconds after.

Ancelotti made his intentions known, that he was going for the victory late on, as he brought on experienced striker Nicolas Anelka to replace their goalscorer Sturridge, as the English champions went for five Champions League wins out of five.

The home side continued to press forward, but to no avail, as Drogba back-heeled for Malouda on the edge of the six yard box, but although a large proportion of Stamford Bridge believed it was a goal, it in fact hit the outside of the net, much to the frustration of the French winger.

The winner finally came for Chelsea with five minutes left as Drogba, this time knocked a header down for Malouda to poke home and secure all three points for Ancelotti’s side, guaranteeing them top spot in their Champions League group.