Andre Villas- Boas won the battle of the Champions League virgin managers when his Chelsea outfit overcame Robin Dutt’s Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
AVB had the cheek to rest John Terry and Frank Lampard, which could easily have back fired, however this proved to be a shrewd call with such a big game at the weekend. Chelsea started with a familiar 4-3-3 formation with the attack being led by, under fire, Fernando Torres.
The game exploded in to life in the first minute, Torres saw a fantastic overhead effort, from a Sturridge cross, float over Leno’s bar. Then Bayer had the ball in the net, from a corner, which was ruled out, harshly, for a push on Malouda. Chelsea stormed up the field and Torres flicked on a Mata cross and Meireles was adjudged offside as he attempted to help the ball in to the net. Torres then had a shot on target, saved by the ‘keeper.
Chelsea were attacking at every opportunity with Sturridge a constant threat down the right. The only real threat form the visitors were from the numerous free kicks Chelsea were conceding, in their own half. Thankfully the, training ground, set pieces came to nothing due to bad delivery. Chelsea finished the first half in the ascendancy with a flurry of corners without really threatening. Robin Dutt would have been pleased to hear the half-time whistle without the deadlock being broken.
The second half began with the visitors having a good 15 minute spell. Chelsea seemed to have lost their shape and the momentum was with the Germans. Blues old boy Michael Ballack was clean through with only Cech to beat, but the Chelsea ‘keeper stood tall and blocked the, on target, effort.
Chelsea began to come to life and were unlucky not to take the lead when Cole crossed for Sturridge, with the youngsters effort turned on to the post by, the impressive, Leno. Sturridge looked bemused as he was immediately substituted for Anelka, whilst Meireles made way for Lampard, as AVB looked to his senior players to make the break through. Michael Ballack left the field of play on 65 minutes to a standing ovation from the entire crowd. Two minutes later and the home support were on their feet again.
The enigma that is David Luiz strolled out of central defence, reminiscent of Franz Beckenbauer, a gap opened and Luiz accelerated through the opening and after 60 yards played the ball to Cole, on the left, Cole slid the ball through to Torres in the box, Torres eased the ball back in to the path of Luiz and the Brazilian hit an unstoppable curler, around the covering defender, inside Leno’s left hand post. Luiz was quick to point out the contribution made by Torres to the ecstatic home support.
Chelsea continued to press with Mata going close and a Frank Lampard ‘rasper’ stinging the hands of Leno. The lively Anelka had the ball in the German net only for the effort to be ruled out, wrongly, for offside. The Germans were visibly tiring and Chelsea looked to hit them on the counter in the final few minutes. Suddenly Torres was put through on the inside left channel and he unselfishly laid on Mata to score for the final kick of the match. Mata made sure that the crowd acknowledged the contribution from Torres.
A winning start for AVB will not have Barcelona shaking in their boots, but Chelsea continue to make light work of the CL group stages.