Thursday 5 December 2019

Ancelotti joy as Blues complete mission in Moscow

Spartak Moscow 0
Chelsea 2

Nicolas Anelka celebrates scoring Chelsea's second goal in their win over Spartak Moscow. Photo: Getty Images
Nicolas Anelka celebrates scoring Chelsea's second goal in their win over Spartak Moscow. Photo: Getty Images

John Ley in Moscow

Where there were once tears came joy as Chelsea went some way to burying the ghost of their Champions League final heartache, returning to the scene of their penalty crime to produce a professional and dominant performance last night.

Not until John Terry finally lifts the Champions League trophy will Chelsea totally banish the demons they still carry from the shoot-out defeat in 2008 but much of that disappointment disappeared into the cold Moscow night as Carlo Ancelotti's team dominated to record their third win out of three in Group F.

Ireland's Aiden McGeady grew in stature for the hosts as the game progressed, starting poorly but creating a few good chances after the break, but he could do nothing to stop the visitors coming away with all three points.

For Terry the chance to forget his infamous penalty slip will have been gratefully received with a dominant performance that showed the captain back at his assertive best, while Nicolas Anelka, who also failed from the spot on that fateful night, secured this win with Chelsea's second goal.


Anelka's goal came toward the end of the first half after Yuri Zhirkov returned to the city where he used to play for rivals CSKA Moscow and scored his first goal for Chelsea.

"I don't think the players were thinking about the last defeat in this stadium," Ancelotti said. "They were focused on this game. It was an important moment for Yuri. He scored a fantastic goal."

Spartak were the first to threaten when Sergei Pashivlyuk was allowed to run at the visiting defence before he fed the ball invitingly for Dmitri Kombarov, but he shot over.

Chelsea responded 15 minutes into the game with a wild shot on the break from Florent Malouda, but there was nothing untamed about the shot that gave the visitors the lead in the 24th minute. Zhirkov picked up the ball after a poor headed clearance from Nicolas Pareja and unleashed a dipping half-volley with his left foot from 20 yards.

After squandering more chances, Chelsea's dominance was translated into another goal just before the break when Michael Essien's wonderful run and pass allowed the Frenchman to turn captain Sergei Parshivlyuk before finding the bottom right corner with a terrific finish.

Spartak responded inside the opening minutes of the second half when McGeady saw his shot tipped over by Petr Cech. The Russians were more offensive in the second half but Cech saved well twice as Spartak pressed, but Chelsea held on. Where Chelsea suffered the ultimate pain came signs that their holy grail is clearly within their sights. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport