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Chelsea 1 - 0 Portsmouth


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Stamford%20Bridge%20Stadium.jpgChelsea 1 - 0 PortsmouthPremier League - 25 August - Stamford Bridge - 15:00 kick-offA brilliant first-half strike from Frank Lampard was enough for Chelsea to defeat Portsmouth 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Harry Redknapp's side proving stiff opposition for the FA Cup holders.The result continues the excellent run of form the West London outfit have been enjoying since the start if the new campaign, and puts them at the top of the Premier League table after just four outings. With Manchester City losing to Arsenal, it was the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to leapfrog the rejuvenated team lead by Sven Goran-Eriksson.Portsmouth provided the opposition for Chelsea, who were looking to build on their historic record of 64 unbeaten home games; set two weekend before when Michael Essien's superb strike broke down the brave resistance of Birmingham City. Whilst Harry Redknapp's team were not enjoying the same start they had experienced in the previous league campaign, Portsmouth had battled from a goal down to earn a highly creditable draw with champions Manchester United. Chelsea, on the other hand, were back at the dizzying heights of the top of the Premier League, and wins over Birmingham and Reading within the space of four days, and a well-earned draw at Anfield against title hopefuls Liverpool had put the Blues on track to regain their Premier League crown.The spine of the new-look Chelsea team was already emerging, as José Mourinho opted to make just one change to his starting line-up. Claudio Pizarro replaced Salomon Kalou, after the Peruvian impressed greatly once again following his switch from Bayern Munich in the summer. Petr Cech continued in the Chelsea goal, hoping to collect his 100th career league clean sheet. John Terry, an absentee from the Blues' first handful of league games continued at centre-half alongside Israeli Tal Ben Haim, who had played every minute of Chelsea's league campaign. Michael Essien played right back for the second consecutive game, and Ashley Cole featured on the left-hand-side of the defence. The four-man midfield featured Florent Malouda and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the wings; with both players enjoying fine form. John Obi Mikel was preferred in the defensive midfield slot alongside Frank Lampard, with Claude Makelele rested in order to regain full match-fitness. Didier Drogba completed the line-up, the Ivorian captain playing alongside Pizarro. New signing Juliano Belletti joined Joe Cole, Alex, Carlo Cudicini and Salomon Kalou on the bench, and would make his Chelsea debut midway through the second half.Portsmouth fielded a highly-recognisable team from the one which had performed so well last campaign. David James continued in goal after a series of fine performances, and the former-Arsenal pairing of Lauren and captain Sol Campbell featured in the Pompey defence. Kanu, another former Highbury favourite, played alongside the lively John Utaka, who had previously played for Stade Rennais and RC Lens in the French Ligue Un.It was Claudio Pizarro, after just one minute, who was presented with the first opportunity of the game. His quick turn was clever and his shot powerful enough to beat James, but the shot flashed some feet wide of the Portsmouth goalkeeper's near post. Pizarro had a chance to make amends moments later, but failed to put Lampard through on goal.With ten minutes on the clock, the home side were clearly in the ascendancy. Pizarro was once again at the heart of another Chelsea attack, this time linking with Lampard. The Peruvian slid the ball through to Lampard who switched the play to the wide left and unmarked Malouda. Weaving his way past Lauren, the former Lyon man launched his shot into the side-netting.Moments later, roles were reversed. The thus-far ineffective Wright-Phillips was hacked down by a Portsmouth defender, and Malouda's whipped free-kick was perfectly delivered. Pizarro headed the ball over from eight yards when perhaps the unmarked Drogba was in a better scoring position, but it was another warning to Portsmouth of the many varying dangers Chelsea possessed.Lauren and Gary O'Neil combined five minutes later when Portsmouth looked to get into the Chelsea half for the first time. Michael Essien was alert to the low cross, and got back in time to cover and clear the ball. Chelsea were governing the game. Immediately after, Matt Taylor tried his luck from distance. An excellent lunge from Tal Ben Haim deflected the ball around Petr Cech's goal and out of play for a corner. Whilst Cech may have argued he had the effort covered, it was superb awareness and anticipation by Israel's finest.But as Portsmouth looked to be in the ascendancy, it was Chelsea who took the lead. Petr Cech's long ball was taken down gracefully by Drogba, who played the ball into the path of Lampard. The Portsmouth defence stretched, Lampard lashed the ball past James and into the back of the net. It was Frank's fourth goal for club and country in as many games.Before the end of the half, Lampard was presented with another opportunity, but it was Shaun Wright-Phillips who was next to test David James. His stinging shot was well parried by the Portsmouth goalkeeper, who managed to gather at the second attempt. Lampard's rocket shot moments later almost caught James off-guard, but the experienced goalkeeper denied Lampard from range with some fine positioning.Seconds before the half-time whistle blew, Matt Taylor tried an audacious lob from 25 yards, but Cech read the effort well and watched the chipped shot sail over the bar. _44079255_lampard416.jpgThe second half began at a lively pace, with Chelsea showing they were not keen to settle on a single-goal lead. Malouda did brilliant to skip past two Portsmouth challenges before he found Drogba. The Ivorian's reverse pass caught Portsmouth off-guard and apparently also Shaun Wright-Phillips. The diminutive figure of the England winger managed to connect with the pass after stretching, but lost his bearings and fired his shot some feet wide of the top corner. Whilst it was at 1-0, there was still a chance for Portsmouth.Six minutes later, Sean Davis' frustrating afternoon took a turn for the worse. Booked for a challenge on Malouda, he then missed whilst in space from eight-yards-out after Kanu had managed to beat Essien in the tackle.O'Neil was presented with a chance moments later as Portsmouth continued to remind Chelsea that their lead was a narrow one. This time the midfielder fired narrowly over with a blistering effort from twenty yards, but Cech had the angle covered.Benjani was introduced to the fray moments later, and his involvement spurred Mourinho into action. In the space of two minutes, the Special One introduced both Kalou and Juliano Belletti; with Pizarro and Mikel sacrificed. Essien moved into his favoured holding midfield role.Within five minutes of the Ghanaian's introduction into the midfield, chances at both ends were realised. Malouda shot wide following good work from Essien. The French international's shot arrowed past the top corner with James beaten by the speed of Chelsea's direct play from the midfield. At the opposite end, Portsmouth should have scored when Sully Muntari dispossessed Essien. Muntari thread the ball through to Benjani who was causing a whole new array of problems, but he shot wide nonetheless.On 78 minutes, Kalou twisted and turned his marker to create some space, but even his quick feet couldn't find the back of the net as James read the Ivorian striker's shot well and gathered the ball at the first attempt.Sol Campbell showed just why many believed he should return to the England set-up when a magnificent diving challenge prevented Drogba on 80 minutes. The untested Belletti unleashed the powerful striker and but for Campbell's perfectly timed tackle, he would have been one-on-one with James.Nugent and Pamarot were thrown into play in a final throw of the dice for Harry Redknapp, but Ashley Cole was in the right place at the right time with a brilliant headed clearance from Hreidarsson's effort.Full-time arrived when Ben Haim ensured Chelsea would receive all three points when he punted Nugent's through-ball twenty yards over the half-way line, and with no time to launch a last-gasp attack, the referee sounded his whistle to ensure Chelsea continued their excellent start to the season.Squads and RatingsChelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry ©, A Cole; Wright-Phillips (J Cole 74), Mikel (Belletti 64), Lampard ©, Malouda; Pizarro (Kalou 62), Drogba.Goals Lampard 30Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Lauren (Pamarot 82), Distin, Campbell ©, Hreidarsson; O'Neil (Benjani 60), Muntari, Davis, Taylor (Nugent 82); Kanu, Utaka.Booked Davis, MuntariChelsea RatingsCech - 7 - Barely tested.Ben Haim - 8 - Fantastic display - powerful in the air and commanding.Terry - 7 - A typical day at the office for the Chelsea skipper.Essien - 6 - Wasted at right-back, his presence was more useful in the midfield.A. Cole - 7 - Typical performance by Cole - right place at the right time.Belletti - 7 - - A solid start to his Chelsea career.Lampard - 7 - Good display by Lampard. Confident finish.Wright-Phillips - 7 - Not as effective against a tight Portsmouth backline, had several wasted chances.Malouda - 7 - Teased the Portsmouth defenders and his final balls should have been tucked away by the forwards.Mikel - 6 - Quiet early on, but made his impression.Joe Cole - 6 - - Tried his hardest, but still not starting place for Cole.Drogba - 7 - Held the ball up well. Pizarro - 7 - Could have, and should have scored twice.Kalou - 7 - Had a couple of good chances.Referee - 6/10 Chelsea - Stats - Portsmouth1 - Goals - 0 7 - Shots on Target - 1 10 - Shots off Target - 13 2 - Blocked Shots - 9 4 - Corners - 6 15 - Fouls - 13 4 - Offsides - 4 0 - Yellow Cards - 2 0 - Red Cards - 0 64% -Possession - 36% Star Manbenhaim_551691.jpgTal Ben HaimViews of the Blues
Not a good performance but decent and keeping the clean sheet was vital as Pompey did push us to the limit,especially when Benjani came on for them.SWP was outstanding in the first half and deserved a goal.good goal by Lampard and a fantastic goaline clearence from Ashley Cole.Top of the table with normal service resumed :P Stayed in my seat at half time for a change and was entertained by the keepy uppy competition but have a word with Kenyon being one of the judges :) .

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