Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chelsea 2 - 0 Bremen

A less than sell-out crowd at Stamford Bridge saw Werder Bremen meet Chelsea for the first game of the Blues’ Champions League campaign. Like in their match against Charlton last Saturday, Chelsea begin well against an organized Bremen side that saw Miroslav Klose pass a late fitness test (thigh injury) to start against the Blues.

The Chelsea midfield were able to get forward in possession, despite an embarrassing dive by Ballack in the box that did not result in a yellow card, but a free kick for Bremen and some sardonic applause from the referee. Officiating by the Greek ref Kyros Vassaras during the game was inconsistent at best.

Michael Essien roamed the midfield, and up and down the right side. So many attacks began with the Ghanian midfielder, as many did with Ashley Cole on the left. But the first half didn’t offer much in terms of spectacular play from Cole or the rest of the squad, with Chelsea happy to play their possession game and Essien standing out as the catalyst.

The goal came in the 23rd minute, when Essien was fortunate enough to find himself one-on-one with the keeper after Petri Pasanen’s failed clearance in the box, as Chelsea shirts bounced and tumbled over each other atop of the Bremen defender. Overall, the second half saw some sloppiness from Chelsea in defense, but they proved dangerous on counter-attacks.

For Bremen, left-back Wome is a dynamic and energetic player when he comes forward, but he’s best left back to defend. Klose struck a screamer headed destined for the back of the net in the 36th minute, but Cech did well to parry it away. The second half begun with the German side threatening, and the game got interesting in the 52nd minute, when Bremen gained possession and flipped the ball around the Chelsea box. The Blues defended well, but couldn’t pry the ball from Bremen. A patient build-up to a great ball in from Frings found Klose’s head, but he headed it over the bar. A missed sitter from Klose, but the best football so far from the German side.

Terry committed a foul on a clumsy tackle as Tim Borowski struck at goal, but Cech punched it out. Surprisingly, no second yellow for Terry’s foul. Luckily for him, Diego’s free kick soars over the bar. At 1-0, that could've changed the game considerably and it's unlucky for Bremen.

Drogba missed a sitter in the 62nd minute, when Cole sent a ball across the box to find him all alone on the right. A clean powerful strike that went wide of the post.

Chelsea were lucky to escape an equalizer off of another Torsten Frings ball in that Klose heads onto Cech’s crossbar in the 64th minute.

The Blues sealed the victory in the 67th minute when Drogba is taken down when Borowski pushes him from behind, and Ballack stepped up to coolly slot it high into the right hand corner, his first for the Blues. That’s how you do it, Franky.

To add insult to exclusion, Sheva took the next free kick as Lampard left at as a decoy. His shot skips straight to the Bremen keeper for a save. He almost redeemed himself in the 79th minute as the ball rolled to him in front of Bremen’s goal and he took a strike from a tight angle, only to see the ball bounce off the far post.

Joe Cole came in for Sheva in the 81st minute, his first game back since incurring a knee injury in the Blues’ game against the MLS All-stars. Lots of opportunities for Sheva, but nothing doing on the score sheet.

It really could have been 4-2 instead of 2-0, and Chelsea do well enough to get the three points in their first CL game before they’re off to meet Levski in two weeks time in Sofia. Questions will surround Lampard's inability to score, especially with Ballack's penalty and Essien's strong performance.

Match Report [BBC Sport]
Full running match report
[Guardian UK]


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