Chelsea went into tonight’s fifth match day Champions League game making seven changes to the weekend’s game against Bolton. Jose Mourinho had said a day before the game that Carlo Cudicini, Alexey Smertin and Scott Parker would all make appearances. Other changes included Glen Johnson for Paulo Ferreira, Scott Parker for Claude Makelele, William Gallas filled in at centre back alongside Ricardo Carvalho with Wayne Bridge coming in at left back. Up front Mateja Kezman came in for Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole came in to replace Damien Duff. Mourinho had also stated that he wanted to keep certain players fresh for the more important Premiership game against Charlton at The Valley on Saturday. Chelsea were looking to do a Juventus and make it five wins out of five in the group stage. Earlier in the afternoon CSKA Moscow had played Porto in Moscow with the away team running out winners 0-1, thus placing them second behind Chelsea. None of the other three teams in the group could catch Chelsea, so the match in Moscow didn’t bear any relevance to us, more to PSG.
With John Terry being rested this evening Frank Lampard took the captains armband, Chelsea began the game brightly and could have gone 1-0 up after five minutes. Some great build up play found Mateja Kezman, he linked up well with Joe Cole who then played the ball back to Kezman who played the ball across the goal. Before the ball reached Cole in front of goal, the ball deflected off of a defender and out of Cole’s reach. Just four minutes later, Kezman had a great chance to score. Joe Cole dribbled through and played the ball through to Kezman who had a one on one with PSG keeper Letizi, but instead of scoring, he shot wide. Kezman’s confidence is low at the moment and is in need of goals, with luck they’ll come, but he really needs to bury those chances, as they don’t come along too often in these kinds of games. PSG’s first chance, if you can call it that came from a Cisse shot that went well wide of Cudicini’s post, they didn’t really pose much of a threat throughout the game and defended heavily as we’ve seen other teams do at Stamford Bridge in the past. Their next half attempt at goal came on the 41st minute when a free kick was knocked into the box; it found Yepes but was cleared by Carvalho at the expense of a corner. Just before half time a Robben shot went wide when he could have found Kezman or Cole inside the box.
At the start of the second half Damien Duff came on for Arjen Robben, this wasn’t due to an injury, just the fact that Mourinho wanted to rest Robben before Saturday as he’d also given Duff the first half to relax on the bench. With games coming thick and fast, Mourinho is giving the players he requires the maximum rest ahead of games against Charlton in the Premiership and Fulham in the Carling Cup. Duff’s entrance into the second half proved effective. He was fed the ball a good few times out on the left and he made a lot of difference during the final 45 minutes for a Chelsea team that weren’t really pushing at full steam. In the 59th minute the Dutch referee awarded a free kick after a Pichot foul on Duff on the left hand side of the box. Lampard took the free kick low and hard which only just evaded Joe Cole. It was a great chance, yet the score remained 0-0. With 15 minutes to go Didier Drogba came on as substitute for Mateja Kezman and was given a great reception by the home fans. This was Drogba’s return after a thigh injury that had kept him out for five weeks after our defeat of Liverpool 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in mid October. Eidur Gudjohnsen also came on for Frank Lampard.
With the game ebbing away Drogba got a magnificent chance to score with nine minutes to go. Eidur Gudjohnsen played him through and with just the keeper to beat his shot was hit low, but was parried away by Letizi. Before the end of the game Cudicini had to make a couple of saves but nothing that would worry him and Damien Duff had a shot saved. But at full time the game ended 0-0 and left us with lucky 13 points in Group H. PSG didn’t really trouble the Chelsea defence and on any other given day we could and would have scored. However, as this wasn’t the most important game of the season a 0-0 draw was pretty much on the cards. Let’s hope that come Saturday with players fresh and rested we’ll turn on the style and avenge our 4-2 Boxing Day defeat from last season against Charlton Athletic.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Johnson, Carvalho, Gallas, Bridge, Smertin, Parker, Lampard (Gudjohnsen 61), Cole, Kezman (Drogba 61), Robben (Duff 45)
Paris St Germain: Letizi, Pichot, Fanfan, Armand, Mendy, M’Bami, Cana, Cisse (Boskovic 83), Reinaldo (Coridon 76), Pauleta (Pancrate 88)
Referee: René Temmink. Attendance: 39,626