It proved an uncomfortable night for Chelsea as they were held to a goalless draw in a game that was hampered further by news that Didier Drogba will be out for a few weeks with a knee injury.
Although many Chelsea fans would have expected the result to be a formality, the current Romanian champions gave a good account of themselves and proved that their 2-1 defeat of Roma was no fluke
FCR Cluj demonstrated early signs of attacking ambition with first half efforts from Eugen Trica and Alvaro Pereira. Indeed, Pereira’s rasping left-shot shot on the 35th minute provided a heart-stopping moment only for the ball to fly tantalisingly close past Cech’s post.
Chelsea failed to register a single shot on goal with any real conviction in the first half and sorely missed the guile and creativity of Deco. Lampard attempted to inject an attacking threat and his clever free kick just before half-time provided a genuine chance but Drogba failed to connect in front of goal. It summarised a frustrating night for Drogba who lacked any urgency to break forward and unsettle the FCR Cluj defence.
Although Anelka’s appearance at half-time was designed to offer another attacking threat, he failed to link up well with the Chelsea midfield.
Drogba’s injury early on in the second half, sustained after he tried to latch onto a low Malouda cross, certainly dampened the Chelsea mood, however news emanating from the Chelsea camp suggests that the injury is not as serious as first presumed.
FCR Cluj continued to pack their defence in the second half leading to a speculative long-range effort from Lampard on the 72nd minute which dipped dangerously but which was saved comfortably by Stanciou. The best chance of the match actually fell to FCR Cluj five minutes later as Trica’s shot clipped the left post. Chelsea failed to learn from their defensive mistakes and Bosingwa’s lapse in concentration allowed Pereira to break through only for an alert Cech to save his effort five minutes from time.
Chelsea probably considered themselves lucky to get a point from the match and Scolari’s post-match interview suggested that he was happy with the draw. Although that may be the case, Big Phil must surely view this result as two points lost, particularly in a week that saw all the other English teams register straight-forward wins.