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Chelsea 1-0 Juventus


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Chelsea F.C. 1-0 Juventus

February 25 2009, UEFA Champions League, First Knockout Round, First Leg, Stamford Bridge, West London

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Chelsea goalkeeper denies Juventus star Amauri at Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba's brilliant early finish handed Chelsea a priceless initiative in their Champions League tie against Juventus.

In a game that also saw Blues shotstopper Petr Cech record a clean sheet on his 200th appearance for the club, Drogba latched onto a fantastic through-ball from the energetic Salomon Kalou, before lashing the ball past Bianconeri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The game was not plain sailing for the Blues, and were almost made to pay for failing to convert several guilt-edged chances in the first period when a deflected Pavel Nedved shot almost found the back of the net, but for a well-timed interception from Brazilian centre-half Alex.

In his Stamford Bridge bow, new boss Guus Hiddink was somewhat overshadowed by the return of former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri to SW6. Affectionately known as the 'Tinkerman' during his tenure at the helm of the club, Ranieri oversaw the early stages of Chelsea's development into one of Europe's elite, and signed current Blues stars Frank Lampard and Petr Cech, as well as nurturing captain John Terry. An appreciate round of applause for the Italian had Stamford Bridge rocking, and by the time the teams were led out by the Portuguese referee, the stadium erupted into a cauldron of noise, with both the Matthew Harding and Shed End regulars in fine voice, and the travelling fans from Turin were in raucous mood also.

Hiddink made one change to the side that claimed an excellent victory at Villa Park at the weekend, with Ashley Cole replacing Paulo Ferreira at left full-back. Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien had since returned to full training, but were not yet fit enough to participate following spells on the sidelines. Ranieri's side included Italian meastro Alessandro del Piero, former Czech international Pavel Nedved and former Chelsea midfielder Mendes Tiago. Former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg replaced Zdenek Grygera at right-back

It was the lively figure of Kalou that had the first shot of the game, firing an effort from range into the palms of Gigi Buffon; the Italian doing well to keep the ball in his hands with Frank Lampard looming. Michael Ballack lashed over before the first clear cut opportunity of the match fell to Drogba. Played in by Ballack, Jose Bosingwa launched a teasing cross between Legrottaglie and the goalkeeper, inviting Drogba to attack, but the big Ivorian failed to convert under pressure. Moments later, the Blues were rueing a decision by the officials not to award a penalty after Drogba had apparently been impeded in the area.

But their bright attacking play was rewarded when Drogba scored for the second Champions League match in a row for the Blues. Kalou found himself in an unusual central role after Ballack played the ball to him with a chipped pass from the wing. With the Bianconeri defence expecting a pass out wide, Kalou instead threaded an exquisite ball through the eye on a needle into Drogba's path. The Ivorian set himself excellently with a killer first touch, before firing beyond Buffon. Drogba celebrated with the fans, but there was much more to be done.

Drogba had a headed effort glance off his forehead, onto his shoulder and wide of the mark as Chelsea continued to press, before the Italians showed their attacking prowess with simple counter-attacking football. Juventus talisman del Piero was played through by Tiago, and only an excellent reflex save by the onrushing Cech denied the striker; tipping the ball beyond the far post. The resulting corner caused dismay amongst the Chelsea rearguard, but Amauri's flick on just evaded Giorgio Chiellini's back post run.

Drogba and del Piero were masterfully leading the line for their respective teammates, but it was the former who caused the majority of the problems for the opposing defence, using his physical presence to panic the Juventus defenders. However, the Italian had an opportunity when Drogba was wrongly adjudged to have handled when the ball clearly bounced off his shoulder. Del Piero went for goal, but his effort from a tight angle was blocked by Kalou.

The first period ended to a standing ovation from the home fans, who had enjoyed an entertaining first half between two excellent sides. The Blues were creative and fluent going forward and were defending valiantly, but Juventus would later show their own quality by dominating much of the second period.

Chelsea looked to continue their exceptional performance in the second half by producing a number of opportunities in the opening exchanges. Lampard found Bosingwa through intelligent play, and the Portuguese's cross was aimed towards Drogba but headed away by Giorgio Chiellini, before Ballack's well-hit follow-up volley was wide of the mark.

Ranieri's side made an instant reply, however, as Amauri saw his headed effort deflected wide while Nedved shot tamely at Cech in a moment reminiscent of an opportunity in the first half when the Czech fired wastefully straight down the throat of his compatriot. Lampard fired into the midriff of Buffon as chances went begging, before Drogba's bullet header went wide of the post with the goalkeeper stranded.

Amauri then headed straight at Cech despite executing a technically brilliant header by outjumping Alex and twisting his neck quickly, but his effort lacked the power to worry the double centurion. Amauri caused further problems later when he forced Cech to drop the ball, but the goalkeeper recovered and had the presence of mind to punch it out of play.

Florent Malouda then joined the action, before Michael Mancienne made his long-awaited Stamford Bridge debut. Sitting in an anchor role in midfield alongside the effective John Mikel Obi, the young Englishman had a promising performance and was composed throughout his cameo appearance. The duo were joined by Malouda's France international colleague, David Trezeguet, and he spurned a brilliant chance after del Piero magnificently flicked the ball over the Chelsea defence and into his path, but the striker - who had just returned from four months out injured - miskicked the ball wide.

Legrottaglie almost connected with del Piero's late delivery from the wing but Mancienne denied him in the air, before Anelka launched a missile from all of 30 yards that flew inches wide of Gigi Buffon's far post. Stamford Bridge suddenly went quiet when Nedved's deflected shot went wide of the mark thanks to a deflection off the boot of Alex, although Cech appeared to have his post covered. There were late shouts for a penalty when Drogba was barged off the ball, but the inconsistent Portuguese referee waved away the protests, and Chelsea held out for the win.

The Blues will head to Turin in two weeks' time with a precious lead, and having denied the Bianconeri an away goal, will be favourites to progress. Next up for Hiddink and his men is the potentially tricky test of Steve Bruce's Wigan Athletic, before a match against Coventry complete a hectic schedule before the trip to Italy.


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The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match award goes to...

DidierDrogba_865453.jpg

Didier Drogba

Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Ballack (Mancienne), Mikel, Lampard; Kalou (Malouda), Drogba, Anelka.

Juventus: Buffon; Mellberg, Chiellini, Legrottaglie, Molinaro; Camoranesi (Marchionni), Sissoko (Trezeguet), Tiago (Marchisio), Nedved; Del Piero ©, Amauri.

Attendance: 38,079.
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Rapped that Drogba scored. Loved him drop back and defend towards the end. I like Manciennes in your face defence! Lampard was strong, Kalou in my mind played the best, Anelka was all over the place ( in a good way), Alex defended like a champ, Cole and Bosingwa gave good service and didnt get caught forward to much, Ballack needs to stop hacking at other players feet, Terry is our rock!. Cech played like a man on mission.

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Just a few things to say :

- i would feel better with a second goal

- the referee was a disgrace, why the hell he didn´t gave the penalty, there were two occasions at least

- strong prefomance by the boys in blue, especially Drogba, who really looked sharp

- Hiddink seems to give the squad the needed coolness in bringing a victory home.

- hopefully Essien and Carvalho back on the track soon

Thanks

Edited by diskoviolente
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Just a few things to say :

- i would feel better with a second goal

- the referee was a disgrace, why the hell he didn´t gave the penalty, there were two occasions at least

- strong prefomance by the boys in blue, especially Drogba, who really looked sharp

- Hiddink seems to give the squad the needed coolness in bringing a victory home.

- hopefully Essien and Carvalho back on the track soon

Thanks

If I had to have a criticsm, it would be as with Villa, the players decide to retreat into thier own half to give the opposition a go. This invites trouble.

Other teams just sweep it across the back four and keep possession, agree with Hiddink that we are too ready to let them have it for a bit, and some of the defending was amateurish at times, lucky to escape.

Sort this out and it's back to 95% winning ways.

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