Chelsea Analysis – Blues See Off Spartak And Qualify For Knockouts

Anelka 49, Drogba (pen) 62, Ivanovic 66, 90+2

Bazhenov 86

Chelsea exploded into life after a frustrating first half to destroy Spartak Moscow in a devastating 20 minute period. A three-goal landslide just after the break ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s squad safe passage to the Champions League knockout rounds and effectively sealed their status as group winners.

Despite Chelsea’s imminent trip to Anfield this weekend, Carlo Ancelotti named a next to full strength team, with Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and John Terry the only notable absentees. Didier Drogba skippered the Blues whilst Branislav Ivanovic partnered Alex at the back and Ramires was given his first ever start for Chelsea in European competition.

Spartak Moscow came into the game second in Group F with six points by virtue of an own goal in Marseille and a 3-0 demolition of minnows MSK Zilina, and despite the stature of their hosts arrived at Stamford Bridge in a positive mindset. In an evenly fought opening twenty minutes, both teams tried to force the issue without ever sustaining any prolonged periods of pressure and but for some spectacular efforts from Nicolas Anelka and Aiden McGeady, neither side carved out any clear goal scoring opportunities. Chelsea’s French striker looked the most likely to conjure some Blue magic for the hosts, but with a subdued Drogba leading the line and Salomon Kalou almost anonymous on the opposite flank, any attacking motions eventually broke down.

Chelsea seemed devoid of any creative notions and their first half frustrations were summed up when Alex sent Ivanovic’s glancing header over the bar with the goal at his mercy just before half time. After the break, Chelsea settled into their usual rhythm and despite industrious work from Spartak to stifle any attempts to find a breakthrough, The Blues put their visitors to the sword and smashed three goals in 17 minutes just after the restart.

A cute one-two between Anelka and Drogba resulted with the former lashing home from an impossible angle and despite some suspect positioning from Andrie Dikan, the striker’s exquisite finish brought a sigh of relief from the Stamford Bridge crowd and adulation from his manager. Drogba soon ended the game as a contest as his jinking run was brought to a halt unfairly in the box for a stonewall penalty. The Ivorian made no mistake from the spot, deputising for Lampard as Terry watched on in relish from the sidelines and a powerful Ivanovic header moments later, from a pinpoint Drogba cross, sealed Chelsea’s place in the first knockout round.

The Serbian almost tainted what was otherwise a text book second half of football from Chelsea when his hesitance on the ball allowed Nikita Bazhenov to grab a meagre consolation and penetrate Petr Cech’s Stamford Bridge goal for the first time since John Carew netted in the 7-1 thrashing of Aston Villa last season. But the unlikely goal scorer popped up again in stoppage time to end the game on a high and produce a score line that truly reflected a much improved, and desperately needed, second half performance.

1 Cech

19 Ferreira – 26 Terry – 2 Ivanovic – 3 Cole

7 Ramires – 12 Mikel – 18 Zhirkov

39 Anelka – 11 Drogba – 21 Kalou

68 – 46 McEachran on for 12 Mikel
76 – 44 Kakuta on for 39 Anelka
76 – 23 Sturridge on for Drogba

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