Blues cruise to Bridge win over Marseille

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are now ahead of Spartak Moscow on goal

difference after the Russians defeated MSK Zilina 3-0 earlier

today. Marseille, managed by former Chelsea player Didier

Deschamps, now face a real struggle to qualify for the knockout

stage of the competition. Chelsea went into their Group F game on

the back of two successive defeats to Newcastle in the Carling Cup

and Manchester City in the Premier League. Deschamps had called for

his side to show the same physical prowess and counter-attacking

guile that City used to overcome the Blues at Eastlands on

Saturday. But his plan went awry when Chelsea took the lead in the

seventh minute with their first real attack of the game. Florent

Malouda’s shot was deflected for a corner and when Gael Kakuta

aimed it at the near post, captain Terry stole in to flick the ball

home. It was a dream start for the English champions and it could

have been better in the 13th minute had Malouda been able to

prevent his 10-yard shot from going just over the Marseille

crossbar. Anelka, who was roundly booed by Marseille fans from the

kick-off, brought a fine save from Steve Mandanda moments later

after Kakuta’s ball had sent him racing in on goal. Chelsea’s night

got even better in the 27th minute when Stephane Mbia was harshly

adjudged to have handled Michael Essien’s attempted cross. The

Marseille defender was booked for the misdemeanour and Anelka

rubbed salt into their wounds by tucking away the resultant

spot-kick with ease. Anelka was a constant thorn in the side of

Marseille and he was just a yard away from grabbing his second in

the 42nd minute when he tried his luck from 20 yards. Marseille had

barely troubled Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech in the opening period

but the French champions picked up the pace after the restart.

Andre-Pierre Gignac, who had been largely kept well marshalled by

Terry and Alex, sent an overhead kick straight at Cech. In the 57th

minute, Brandao tested Cech’s readiness with a 25-yard effort that

the Czech Republic international did well to hold on to. Marseille

replaced Gignac and Benoit Cheyrou with Andre Ayew and Mathieu

Valbuena moments later as they looked for a way back into the

contest. Chelsea reacted to Marseille’s changes swiftly with coach

Carlo Ancelotti opting to replace Kakuta with Ramires on the hour.

Ashley Cole and Terry then combined to keep out a fierce shot from

Souleymane Diawara. Chelsea went close to adding a third in the

67th minute but a fantastic 35-yard free-kick from Alex hit the

inside of the post with Marseille goalkeeper Mandanda well beaten.

Essien was guilty of hitting the right-hand upright in the 75th

minute when Chelsea opened-up Marseille with another move of fluid

simplicity. Malouda fed Ramires in the inside-left channel and the

Brazilian calmly laid the ball into the path of the onrushing

Essien. But the man nicknamed ‘the Train’ sent his thunderous

right-foot shot against the upright. Chelsea removed Yury Zhirkov

in favour of Daniel Sturridge and the youngster was later joined by

teenager Josh McEachran, who replaced John Obi Mikel. Moments later

Sturridge squandered a simple chance to score when Anelka and Cole

combined superbly down the left flank to provide him with the

opportunity. Sturridge met Cole’s cross on the edge of the six-yard

box but somehow managed to turn the ball beyond the far post. In

the 89th minute Essien was narrowly wide when Cole picked him out

on the edge of the penalty area. The Ghanaian looked to have done

everything right but his left-foot effort spun inches beyond

Mandanda’s right-hand post. It was the last chance of a game

Chelsea had bossed throughout to leave them top of the group with a

trip to Moscow looming in a fortnight.