FRANK GIVES HARRY THE BLUES
Chelsea progressed to the fourth round of the Carling Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win against sorry Portsmouth at Fratton Park.Luis Felipe Scolari handed a belated debut to Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic, while their were first starts of the season for Alex, Wayne Bridge, and Didier Drogba. Juliano Belletti started as a holding midfielder with the ink on new signing Mineiro’s contract still wet, while there was also a place in the starting XI for Salomon Kalou, the hero from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.
Pompey were hit with a few injuries meaning Peter Crouch started up front on his own, but still boasted a formidable line-up including ex-Blue Glen Johnson, but they appeared low on confidence following a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday.
Chelsea started as they were to go on with Drogba showing his own intentions with a shot early on which skimmed the post. Michael Ballack picked up an early booking for a foul on Hermann Hreidarsson, but the Blues were back attacking Pompey’s goal soon after, with Kalou rolling a chance wide of David James’ right-hand post.
Half-chances were the flavour of the early stages of the first-half, with Ballack and Belletti shots failing to trouble the goal. However, it was only Chelsea showing attacking intent, with Crouch isolated up front and unable to make headway for Pompey.
With Harry Redknapp’s side sitting back, Chelsea started to dominate the game, and it wasn’t long before they took the lead. Ballack went down theatrically when challenged by Nadir Belhadj in the box and referee Steve Bennett had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Frank Lampard stepped up to take it and, like in the opening weekend of the season and Chelsea‘s 4-0 win over Pompey, converted a penalty past James.
There was some debate over whether or not there was sufficient contact on Ballack by Belhadj, and Hreidarsson was booked for his own protests by Bennett.
A Peter Crouch header from a cross by the Icelandic left-back was comfortably saved by Petr Cech in a rare Pompey chance, but just a few minutes later Chelsea doubled their lead.
John Utaka had caught the eye in the first-half, but not for his attacking ability, more for the fact that he didn’t track back at all. Johnson at right-back was subsequently overwhelmed at times, and as the half-time whistle loomed, Kalou was able to attack the England player down the left-side. A cut-back into the box found Florent Malouda who drilled a shot into the back of the net for 2-0.
Game over? Not yet.
Shortly after the interval, Lampard scored his second and Chelsea’s third, with Kalou again creating the chance. The Ivorian crossed into the box and the ball wasn’t dealt with by the beleaguered Pompey defence, leaving Lampard with an easy finish.
After Richard Hughes picked up a booking, things got even worse for Pompey, as a poor Sylvain Distin clearance found Kalou in the box, who turned from provider into scorer. A powerful and precise left-footed shot beat James and virtually sealed Chelsea’s place in the fourth round of the Carling Cup.
The home side then picked up another yellow card with Johnson falling foul of Bennett.
Paulo Ferreira came on for Ballack who was roundly booed by the Pompey fans for his part in the first goal, before the game began to peter out with both sides eager to hear the final whistle.Scott Sinclair and Franco Di Santo made cameo appearances while Nwankwo Kanu, Armand Traore and youngster Marc Wilson all came on for Pompey.
But there was little action from neither subs nor starters, and the FA Cup holders must have breathed a sigh of relief when Bennett finally called time.
At times it must have seemed little more than a training exercise for Chelsea as Pompey offered up very little in the way of resistance or ambition. On paper beforehand it looked a tough tie; upon reflection it was anything but.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Pamarot, Distin, Hreidarsson, Utaka, Mvuemba, Kaboul, Hughes (Wilson 78), Belhadj (Armand Traore 68), Crouch (Kanu 68)
Subs not used: Ashdown, Defoe, Djimi Traore, Little.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Bridge, Belletti, Ballack (Ferreira 68), Lampard (Sinclair 73), Kalou, Malouda, Drogba (Di Santo 78).
Subs not used: Cudicini, Mikel, Mancienne, Stoch