Club Focus – Chelsea – Chelsea make it four from four to ease through Champions League group

Chelsea continued their 100 percent record in this seasons’ Champions League with a convincing 4-1 win over Spartak Moscow as they booked their place in the last 16. Second half goals by Nicolas Anelka, the returning Didier Drogba and a brace from an unlikely source in Branislav Ivanovic gave Chelsea a comfortable victory at Stamford Bridge, after an even opening half in which the visiting Russians threatened to spoil the night for the home fans with a stout defensive display that limited their illustrious hosts to few opportunities. The best chance of the goalless first half fell to centre back Alex, who inexplicably contrived to miss an open goal from little more than a yard out after Ivanovic flicked on a corner. However, after a disappointing opening 45 minutes, it took the home side just four second-half minutes to break through their stubborn opponents. Anelka exchanged quick passes with Salomon Kalou as he broke into the box and despite being forced wide by the oncoming Spartak goalkeeper Andriy Dykan composed himself to drive his side ahead from a tight angle to the delight of the home fans. It was his fifth goal in four Champions League games this season and proved to be the changing point in the match as the Premier League leaders hit top form.

It didn’t take long for the Blues to double their lead as Drogba added to his record being Chelsea’s all-time highest European goal scorer with his 27th goal in the Champions League for the club. The Ivorian striker, playing his first game in this seasons’ competition due to suspension and illness, picked himself up after being felled in the Moscow box by Evgeni Makeev to convert confidently from the penalty spot. Four minutes later the game was over. Ivanovic had the easiest of tasks in scoring his second goal in two games after his late winner against Blackburn at the weekend, heading home unopposed from Drogba’s free-kick. Substitutions came as Ancelotti rung the changes, replacing John Obi Mikel and his goal scoring front men to give opportunities to youngsters Joshua McEachran, Daniel Sturridge and Gael Kakuta. Nikita Bazhenov scored an 86th minute consolation for Moscow, despite appearing offside, to break Petr Cech’s run of 956 minutes without conceding at Stamford Bridge. Yet there was still time for Ivanovic to ram home a fourth Chelsea goal in injury time to send their fans home happy.

In winning, the Blues joined Bayern Munich as the only clubs to have won all four of their group games and Ancelotti’s Chelsea side can assure they take top spot by gaining one point in their final two games. Having scored 12 goals, conceded just two in their previous matches and with whipping boys MSK Zilina yet to visit London, that prospect looks virtually guaranteed. Scorer of the opening goal, Frenchman Anelka was praised by his manager after the game as Ancelotti lauded the much travelled forward – suggesting him to be in the form of his life: “Anelka was the key to opening up the game. He scored a fantastic, vital goal,” the Italian said. “Overall I believe that he is in the best moment of his career,” he continued. Next up for the reigning Premier League champions a trip to Anfield to reunite their rivalry with Liverpool on Sunday.

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