For the third game in a row, Chelsea came away without victory, after drawing 1-1 with Norwegian side Rosenborg in our opening Champions League tie for the season. Almost as disappointing was the crowd at Stamford Bridge, a mediocre 24,973.
José Mourinho made two changes from the side that drew with Blackburn in the league on the weekend, Claude Makelélé replacing the uninspiring Steve Sidwell in midfield and Florent Malouda coming in for Shaun Wright-Phillips, as the manager kept faith in the 4-4-2 formation. New signings Alex and the impressive Belletti continued in the defence, whilst Lee Sawyer was named on the substitute’s bench.
Nine minutes in and Salomon Kalou headed over after some good work from Joe Cole and two minutes later Michael Essien shot wide from a good position.
Andriy Shevchenko managed to break through the Rosenborg defence, but by the time he managed to cut the ball back to Florent Malouda, the Norwegians had scrambled defenders back to the line, Strand clearing the goal bound shot.
Rosenborg’s best chances during the game were bound to come from set pieces, and so it proved in the 24th minute. The referee gave a tenth free kick of the game, in favour of Rosenborg. Taken from the left by Sapara, it was touched in by Koppinen from four yards out after the defender beat John Terry to the ball. If the tiny Stamford Bridge crowd was quiet prior to the goal being scored, a pin drop could be heard afterwards – from the other end of the ground.
Chelsea showed added impetus as they bombed forward, Malouda and Joe Cole’s frequent runs inside allowing Ashley Cole and the mightily impressive Belletti to overlap out wide. A Malouda cross was headed over by the towering figure of Alex, whilst Joe Cole and Kalou went close as Chelsea frantically attacked. Seven minutes before half time Shevchenko spun and shot, but dragged it wide of the post. At half time, Chelsea was behind in a match they had dominated.
Rosenborg replaced the injured Basma with Kvarme at half time, Mourinho’s Chelsea were unchanged.
After Joe Cole shot wide, Koné blazed over in a rare moment of panic for Chelsea, as they committed more and more bodies forward. In the 52nd minute, Chelsea’s efforts finally bore fruit. Malouda floated in a decent cross, and with the Rosenborg keeper Hirschfeld committed to claiming the ball, Andriy Shevchenko neatly headed past him to make the score 1-1. The Ukrainian marksman is just two goals away from Gerd Muller’s goalscoring record in the European Cup.
Ten minutes later, the impressive Malouda drove a shot against the post before Dorsin was booked for a foul on Essien. In the 72nd minute, Joe Cole’s goal bound shot was blocked by the substitute Kvarme.
A minute later, José Mourinho made his only two substitutions of the game, replacing Ashley Cole with Tal Ben-Haim and Shaun Wright-Phillips replacing Joe Cole. Chelsea was now playing 3-4-3, with Shevchenko deeper in midfield and John Terry up front. There were still 18 minutes to play.
Within moments of the change, Shevchenko broke from deep and picked out Kalou, only for the Ivorian to strike the post with his left footed effort. Lady Luck was certainly not smiling on Chelsea in this game! Chelsea was relentless in attack, Hirschfeld saving from Kalou from point blank range with five minutes to go. Four minutes of time were added on, and the Norwegians hung on for a much unexpected point at an almost empty Stamford Bridge.
After Mourinho’s rather impressive egg analogy pre-match, the headlines were full of witty egg related puns the following morning. Considering the usual over-reaction to such a result though, perhaps an inverted version of “counting your chickens before they have hatched” is required.
Don’t ever write off Chelsea.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Čech; Belletti, Alex, Terry (c), A Cole (Ben-Haim, 72’); J Cole (Wright-Phillips 72’), Makelélé, Essien, Malouda; Kalou, Shevchenko.
Manager José Mourinho
Rosenborg (4-3-3): Hirschfeld; Strand (c), Basma (Kvarme 46’), Koppinen, Dorsin; Sapara (Ya 68’), Riseth, Tettey; Skjelbred (Iversen 84’), Koné, Traoré.
Manager Knut Tørum.
Referee Laurent Duhamel (France)