Chelsea thrash Atletico at the Bridge
Chelsea 4 – 0 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid made the trip to Stamford Bridge hopelessly out of form. The debt-ridden Spanish side are languishing in 15th position in La Liga and made for suitable opposition for a Chelsea team looking to hit back from a disappointing defeat at Villa Park.
Carlo Ancelotti was once again without the towering figure of Didier Drogba. The Italian opted for Salomon Kalou to partner Nicolas Anelka in attack. Meanwhile Ivanovic replaced the Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of defence.
Victory for the home side would virtually ensure their passage into the second round with three games to play. Meanwhile Atletico were in desperate need of a good result which could prove the catalyst in reversing their ailing fortunes domestically.
From the start, Juliano Belletti looked dangerous in attack on the right flank for the home side. He produced two dangerous crosses in the opening exchanges which exemplified the current disarray at the heart of Atletico’s defence. Kalou out-jumped his marker, but directed his header wide.
Despite looking distinctly vulnerable in defence, the vivacious attacking style of the visitors caused Chelsea some problems of their own.
Former Liverpool target, Simao, darted past Essien and whipped in a low cross which Forlan flicked goalwards. Petr Cech reacted instinctively, grasping the ball to his chest.
Less than a minute later Atletico threatened again. Raul Garcia’s innovative touch unleashed Sergio Ageuro. The Argentine’s attempt crashed into the side netting when going across the keeper appeared a more viable option.
Chelsea recovered from their purple patch and on 13 minutes Stamford Bridge was on it’s feet.
The flight of Frank Lampard’s free kick deceived Sergio Asenjo. The keeper failed to claim the ball as it hit the roof of the net. However much to the dismay of Ancelotti, the linesman had his flag raised for an offside.
The best chance of the first half fell to Kalou. A sharp Chelsea exchange saw Lampard slipped through on goal. The Chelsea midfielder squared to Kalou but the Ivory Coast striker slotted the ball wide when it seemed easier to score.
Forlan and Santana threatened for the away side as the game began to tighten with both sides overloading the midfield. Chelsea struggled to pass their way through the traffic in the centre of the pitch.
The half looked destined to end in a stalemate before the genial Lampard unlocked the Atletico’s creaking defence.
His disguised ball found the striding Cole within the away penalty area. The left back’s deflected cross was thrashed home by Kalou to put his team into a 1-0 advantage.
Chelsea made a positive start to the second period.
Nicolas Anelka almost doubled Chelsea’s lead when he fired a vicious shot goal wards which Asenjo athletically kept out. It was a warning sign that went unheeded by the opposition.
From the resulting corner, Chelsea cemented their winning position.
Lampard’s curling corner found Kalou unmarked in the six yard box. Terrible marking allowed Kalou to time his header perfectly and put an end to any hopes of a comeback from Atletico.
The pessism amongst the away fans worsened a couple of minutes later when their prodigy, Ageuro, wasted a glorious opportunity snatch a goal.
Forlan’s headed pass released Ageuro on the left hand side. The player, who according to the English press is one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s targets, found himself in acres of space.
However the Argentine dawdled on the ball, allowing John Terry to close down the angle and hurriedly fired his attempt straight at Cech.
On 69 minutes the game all three points were sealed for Chelsea. Frank Lampard’s right footed shot from outside the area flew into the bottom corner.
The comfort of a three goal lead allowed Ancelotti to rest Kalou, Cole and Anelka. Daniel Sturridge, Florent Malouda and Yuri Zhirkov were afforded a run out for the remaining quarter of an hour.
Jose Antonio Reyes appeared from the dugout with 15 minutes remaining and made a cameo appearance at Stamford Bridge. Memories of his brace against Arsenal’s arch rivals have long since vanished as his career stuttered along in Spain.
A dismal night for Javier Aguirre and his team was soured further when Perea nodded Malouda’s free kick past his own keeper in added time.
Chelsea: 01 Cech 02 Ivanovic 03 Cole 26 Terry 35 Belletti 05 Essien 08 Lampard 13 Ballack 20 Deco 22 Kalou 39 Anelka
Atletico Madrid: 01 Sergio Asenjo 03 Antonio Lopez 17 Ujfalusi 18 Dominguez 21 Perea 08 Raul Garcia 12 Paulo Assuncao 20 Simao 23 Cleber Santana 07 Forlan 10 Aguero
Man of the Match: Salomon Kalou (Chelsea)