Carlo begins task with success
But it is relief, not joy, for Blues boss on a difficult night
By Peter Fraser. Last Updated: 16/09/09 12:27pm
Anelka: Secured three points
Carlo Ancelotti began his mission to bring the UEFA Champions League trophy to Chelsea with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Porto at Stamford Bridge.
The ex-AC Milan boss was appointed in June as the Blues looked to end a hunger for success in European football's most illustrious competition, and Nicolas Anelka was the goalscorer to ensure a latest quest started with a win.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is desperate for Champions League glory, with Ancelotti identified as the man to succeed where Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink have failed in the past.
But the Blues' new boss, a winner of the competition when at the San Siro, did not deliver a glittering indication that he can meet his designated task as his side were frustrated by Porto in heavy West London rain.
After a forgettable first half in which Chelsea sorely missed the suspended Didier Drogba, Ancelotti saw Anelka open the scoring in the 48th minute as the French striker responded quickly when his initial effort was saved by Porto's Helton.
Porto had their moments in a nervy finish to indicate they will be a force in Group D, but the 2004 tournament winners saw Fernando sent off for a second booking in the closing stages to end any hopes of pinching a point.
The visitors were adept in the soaking conditions and with better luck in front of goal could have drawn first blood.
A 20-yard drive from the impressive figure of the aptly nicknamed Hulk bounced off Petr Cech's knees in the fifth minute, with the Chelsea goalkeeper totally unaware of the power contained within the shot.
But Chelsea should have been in front two minutes later. The fact they did not capitalise on a fine cross from Branislav Ivanovic, starting in place of the banned Jose Bosingwa, was purely down to Helton, who punched away Frank Lampard's header.
Porto also demonstrated they were more than capable of mixing the sublime with the physical when Bruno Alves poleaxed John Terry with an accidental elbow.
The home side continued to live dangerously, with Cristian Rodriguez flashing an angled drive just wide of the far post in the 13th minute.
But the home side should have gone ahead in the 19th minute when a smart move involving Florent Malouda and Lampard set up Anelka.
But the France international shot straight at Helton when it seemed easier to score.
Fredy Guarin gave Chelsea another scare in the 37th minute when he managed to climb higher than Terry, but his header was just inches over the bar.
The English side, however, broke the deadlock in the 48th minute when Kalou, having slipped on the wet turf, poked the ball through to Anelka on the edge of the 18-yard area.
Anelka looked to have squandered another chance when Helton saved his initial shot but the ever-alert forward collected the rebound and sent his second effort into the net at the near post.
Chelsea were now on top, with Michael Essien, whose passing had been as atrocious as the weather in the opening half, finally getting to grips with his surroundings.
Malouda should have increased Chelsea's lead in the 54th minute but he headed Ashley Cole's cross into the side-netting.
Four minutes later Helton produced another stunning save to deny Kalou but Chelsea then lost their purpose and midfield superiority.
It was now Cech's turn to be the star goalkeeper as Porto turned the screw in the final 20 minutes.
For the first time in the game, Ancelotti's side looked distinctly vulnerable as Porto launched a succession of counter-attacks.
They almost equalised when Guarin tested Cech with a powerful drive in the 75th minute and the Chelsea goalkeeper then produced another superb save to prevent substitute Silvestre Varela from finding the net with an angled drive.
It was an anxious time for the home side and Ancelotti was quick to see the danger, taking off Kalou and replacing him with defender Juliano Belletti.
The change was aimed at stemming the flow of Porto's classy attacks - and for a while it succeeded.
But Chelsea's old failings began to surface once more as the game moved into injury-time.
The midfield lost their shape and the ball was given away cheaply. Indeed the panic stations in the home defence had echoes of the final moments of that heartbreaking semi-final against Barcelona last season.But Porto did not have any one with the same shooting skills as Barca's Andres Iniesta and when Fernando was red carded for a lunge on Cole, Porto's cause was lost.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||FC Porto|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||7|
|9||Shots off Target||10|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 15th Sep - Group B
Besiktas0 - 1Man Utd
Wolfsburg3 - 1CSKA Mosc
Tue 15th Sep - Group D
A Madrid0 - 0Apoel Nicosia
Chelsea1 - 0FC Porto
Tue 15th Sep - Group A
Maccabi Haifa0 - 3Bay Munich
Juventus1 - 1Bordeaux
Tue 15th Sep - Group C
FC Zurich2 - 5R Madrid
Marseille1 - 2AC Milan
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||3||4|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|1||Paris St Germain||3||7|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H