Chelsea thumps Zilina in CL opener

BY foxsports • September 15, 2010

A high-scoring Chelsea proved too good for Zilina in their Champions League opener Wednesday as the English champions eased their way to a comfortable 4-1 win.

Following a perfect start to the Premier League season, Chelsea jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just 28 minutes against tournament newcomer Zilina, led by two goals within four minutes by Nicolas Anelka.

Michael Essien opened the scoring 13 minutes into the game and Daniel Sturridge added another in the second half before Tomas Oravec scored a consolation goal for Zilina in the 55th.

"In front, we played very well," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "We had a lot of opportunities."

Chelsea's powerful attack may have been theoretically weakened by the absence of striker Didier Drogba, who was suspended for two games by UEFA after receiving a red card in a 1-0 loss to Inter Milan in the Champions League in March.

It was not.

Ancelotti fielded three strikers, with Daniel Sturridge joining Anelka and Florent Malouda up front instead, a decision that was working well.

Although Zilina started with an attempt to pressure early on and earned a corner in the first minute, it took just several minutes before Chelsea took charge.

The first goal was a result of a perfect fluent move that started with Yossi Benayoun's precise through pass for Nicolas Anelka, who broke down the left to provide a cross that was left by Florent Malouda for Essien to score with a right-footed low drive from the edge of the area.

Zilina replied with a curling free kick by Robert Jez that tested goalkeeper Petr Cech three minutes later. Babatounde Bello's header in the 22nd also forced Cech into making a diving save.

"Zilina created chances but didn't convert them," Cech said.

In another quick move by the visitors in the 24th minute, Malouda chipped a pass over the defense for Anelka to send a low, clinical left-foot drive from inside the area into the back of the net inside the far post, giving goalkeeper Martin Dubravka no chance.

Chelsea captain John Terry had returned to the squad for Saturday's 3-1 win over West Ham after recovering from a hamstring injury, and he started again Wednesday and set up the third for Anelka.

Terry rose high in the area to hit the crossbar off Malouda's corner, and Anelka easily tapped in the rebound to make it 3-0.

Three minutes after halftime, Benayoun set up the fourth with another precise pass from the middle of the field that set Sturridge free.

Zilina pulled one back through an unmarked Tomas Oravec, who received the ball from a deflection by Branislav Ivanovic after Cech had failed to hold on to a cross.

"It was my mistake," Cech said.

Midfielder Frank Lampard, who has been sidelined following hernia surgery during the recent international break, and defender Ashley Cole did not travel with the team to the northwestern Slovak city. Long-term injured defender Jose Bosingwa was also absent.

"Chelsea showed how strong a team it is," Zilina coach Pavel Hapal said. "It was a good lesson for us."

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