Chelsea grind out win
A typically regimental Chelsea display secured a 2-0 victory over Schalke.
Last Updated: 24/10/07 10:50pm
It seems little has changed under Avram Grant's reign after a typically regimental Chelsea display secured a 2-0 victory over German side Schalke.
Goals from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba handed the home side all three points in what was a fairly uneventful and uninspiring 90 minutes.
Grant's side were handed the lead after just four minutes when Malouda's squirted effort slid under Manuel Neuer.
Chelsea doubled their lead and wrapped up the points early in the second half when Drogba headed home from an inviting Paulo Ferreira cross.
Schalke posed little threat going forward which made it easy for the Chelsea, however in what seemed like a golden opportunity to demonstrate the so-called injection of flair football; Grant's men put on a familiarly efficient and professional display.
Chelsea were gifted the best possible start when Malouda got the better of his marker Rafinha before despatching a left-foot shot which Neuer inexplicably allowed to roll through his arms and into the back of the net.
In the 12th minute captain Frank Lampard should have done better with a glancing header from Drogba's cross but he wasted the opportunity by putting his effort over the crossbar.
Michael Essien was equally wasteful in the 25th minute when he rose unchallenged to head a corner from Malouda over the bar from eight yards.
Schalke, who had lost their key striker Kevin Kuranyi though injury during the pre-match warm-up, gave Chelsea a scare two minutes later when Carlos Grossmuller's goal was ruled out for offside.
Chelsea continued to dominate though and in the 32nd minute Essien's glancing header was saved well by Neuer when he managed to get on the end of another curling cross from Malouda.
Seconds before the interval, Joe Cole brought another fine save from Neuer but it was clear from Schalke's neat approach play that Chelsea would benefit greatly from a second goal.
They got it within two minutes of the restart when a flowing move saw Paulo Ferreira provide the perfect cross for Drogba to send a deft header into the net from six yards.
But Chelsea often looked vulnerable to the counter-attack and Schalke were desperately unlucky not to get back into the game on the hour.
A cross from the marauding Rafinha was met firmly by the head of Kuranyi's replacement Soren Larsen only to see his effort cannon back off Petr Cech's right-hand upright and back into the grateful arms of the Chelsea goalkeeper.
In the 84th minute Chelsea's Brazilian defender Alex was extremely fortunate to remain on the pitch when he tugged back Larsen in a bid to atone for a poor back pass to Cech.
But referee Peter Frojdfeldt waved away appeals for a free-kick to the fury of the Schalke bench.
It was a further warning to Chelsea that attacking football has its pitfalls at the opposite end but despite Schalke's attempts to get themselves back into the match, Grant's side held firm.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||FC Schalke 04|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||9|