Chelsea blanks Marseille at home
Chelsea bounced back from consecutive losses by beating Marseille 2-0 in the Champions League after first-half goals by John Terry and Nicolas Anelka on Tuesday.
Terry flicked in a corner in the seventh minute and Anelka added the second with a disputed penalty in the 28th.
The English champions, who had lost two matches in a row coming into the game, were poor after the break but still hit the post twice, through Alex and Michael Essien.
Chelsea’s second successive Group F win – after a 4-1 win at Zilina – kept it top on goal difference from Spartak Moscow, which also had a maximum six points.
"We played well in the first half but Marseille came back in the second half as they tried to get back in the game," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said.
"We analyzed our two last defeats but now they are forgotten about. It’s a good step for us, this victory. We have a good chance to qualify in first place."
Marseille remained without a point after two games, having lost to Spartak 1-0 two weeks ago.
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, who played for Chelsea in the 1999-2000 season, signaled his intent by starting with three out-and-out strikers, clearly feeling the hosts were vulnerable after recent defeats to Newcastle in the League Cup and Manchester City in the English Premier League.
But it did not turn out that way as Chelsea dominated in the first half, helped by Terry’s early goal, but dropped the pace in the second.
"We were dominated both technically and physically," Deschamps said. "We found it tough going. We came here full of ambition but tonight there was a huge difference between the two sides."
Terry stuck his left foot out to Gael Kakuta’s corner to the near post and the ball fizzed past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Chelsea, without injured midfielder Frank Lampard and suspended striker Didier Drogba, settled and began to stroke the ball around, with Frenchman Kakuta, Anelka and Florent Malouda prominent.
Malouda and Anelka both tested Mandanda with fierce shots before the home side went 2-0 up following a penalty decision that Marseille’s players were furious with.
Stephane Mbia was adjudged to have handled Essien’s right-wing cross and, after waiting for the visitors’ complaints to relent, Anelka coolly ambled up to stroke the spot kick into the bottom-right corner.
The France striker would have taken particular pleasure in scoring in front of the Marseille fans after being barracked by them all game for his previous connections with Paris Saint-Germain.
Apart from a couple of long-range efforts by Benoit Cheyrou, Chelsea’s defense encountered few problems in the first half but Ancelotti did not look happy coming out for the second half.
His mood worsened as the English champions began the half sloppily, misplacing passes and losing possession easily, but Marseille wasn’t able to capitalize despite its territorial superiority.
"We had more of the ball in the second half but they came closer to making it 3-0," Deschamps said.
Alex, who was a solid presence alongside Terry throughout, smashed a 35-yard(meter) free kick against the post in the 66th.
After a flowing move down the left, Essien hit the other post with a side-footed effort from just outside the area in the 75th as the match fizzled out.
Essien and Daniel Sturridge also went close for Chelsea in the final five minutes.
"We didn’t start the brightest in the second half but we stayed solid and kept a clean sheet," Terry said.