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Atlético 2-2 Chelsea


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logo1.jpgTuesday 3 November 2009, the UEFA Champions League, Group Stage, Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid

Chelsea qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League thanks to two Didier Drogba goals, as they drew with Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish side, struggling for form both domestically and in Europe, took a deserved lead when Sergio Aguero hammered home a stunning volley to give Quique Sanchez Flores' side the advantage. The result means Chelsea qualify, alongside FC Porto who beat APOEL Nicosia 1-0 in Cyprus, as well as Manchester United and Bordeaux.

Chelsea were laborious and failed to play with the same creativity and cohesion that has seen them win so many recent admirers, but were back on terms through Didier Drogba, and the Ivorian scored again just moments later to give Chelsea a lead - arguably against the run of play. But Atletico hit back through Aguero's excellent freekick to give the Spaniard a share of the spoils.

Didier Drogba was back in the Chelsea team for the first time in the Champions League since his antics following Chelsea's loss to Barcelona in May - and though that was significant news, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti chose to field Salomon Kalou over Nicolas Anelka alongside the Ivorian in a relatively-unexpected move.

But it was Atletico that enjoyed the better of the first half, with Flores' side showing more urgency than their English opponents. Diego Forlan flashed a left-footed effort wide whilst at the other end, Drogba's shot on the turn went wide of Asenjo's post. Chelsea had soaked up a lot of the early Atletico pressure, but were not showing the same fluidity that has seen them score 17 goals in their last four matches.

A rare start for former Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes looked to be an inspired selection by the former Valencia manager, with the Spaniard forcing a decent save out of Cech with a curling shot from outside the box. Chelsea were rarely troubled, with Atletico resorting to shooting from range, but the Blues were lacklustre at times, frustrating their Italian coach.

Despite their lethargy, Chelsea still went close through Kalou's header, and Asenjo had to react to push Drogba's freekick on the post. Lampard then struck just wide but it was Atletico who took a deserved second half lead through substitute Aguero.

Not included in the starting eleven because of a groin strain, the Argentine smashed home a volley from 12 yards after Terry could only flick on a cross from the flank. It was sweetly-struck but Chelsea will have to look at themselves for giving the Atletico forward too much space in the area.

Chelsea responded by bringing on Deco, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka, and the former almost reduced the arrears but volleyed wide. But Chelsea rallied and Malouda sent in a superb cross that was met by a firm header from Drogba, sending the Vicente Calderon into silence, but for a pocket of travelling supporters from London.

The Blues faithful were in ecstasy moments later when Drogba finished at the second time of asking to put Chelsea 2-1 up, but Aguero levelled matters to at least restore some Atletico pride. Chelsea could have won it with a last-minute freekick but Drogba's effort was charged down and a late Deco shot flew well wide, but Chelsea progressed, and will battle it out with Porto to top Group D.

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Chelsea(4-3-2-1): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Lampard, Essien (Ballack 59), Malouda; Kalou (Anelka 69), J Cole (Deco 69), Drogba

Atlético Madrid (4-4-2): Sergio Asenjo; Perea, Pablo Ibanez, Juanito, Antonio Lopez ©; Reyes (Maxi Rodriguez 71), Paulo Assuncao, Cleber Santana, Simao (Jurado 83); Forlan, Sinama Pongolle (Aguero 53)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 11 - Didier Drogba

Atletico-DD11.jpg

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no English team have beaten them at that stadium, too bad we couldn't break that record.

sort of like the record that no London team has ever won the champions league, when looking at the big picture this early season form means so little.

although if we are playing like this 'when it matters' i will forever be thankful for ancelotti.

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I am really happy with the result.

It was easy to see that Atletico wasn´t the team that will be thumped twice.

They showed character, as did Chelsea falling behind.

The moment after Drogba scored the 2:1 and Atletico got that free kick i was sure this was going to be a draw.

We are qualified for Champions League KO stages with Drogba banging goals in like he was sweet 16.

Bring on any team in the world, i say !

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