A youthful Chelsea side secured top spot in Group F as they beat Slovakian Champions MSK Zilina 2-1.

The visitors had taken a shock lead midway through the first half when Babatounde Bello linked up with captain Robert Jez before poking past Ross Turnbull.

But The Blues turned in round with goals from Daniel Sturridge and a late winner from Florent Malouda ensured the club’s 100% record remained intact.

It was enough to give the Champions after a turbulent week, and also allowed some of the promising youngsters the chance to gain some vital experience.

Sturridge was the most impressive of these, and the oldest at 21, but the likes of Josh McEachran, 17, Patrick Van Aanholt, 20, Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta, both 19 would have all appreciated the game time.

With an average age of just over 24, you would’ve expected early enthusiasm but it wasn’t to be as after a quiet opening Zilina stunned the Bridge by taking the lead.

Bello played a neat one-two with Slovak international Robert Jez before poking home the return first time from the edge of the area.

It was only the second goal Zilina have scored in this season’s competition, and they’ve both come against Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

However, given that they’d conceded 15 goals in their previous four matches, it was perhaps inevitable that Chelsea’s pressure told.

Sturridge looked the most likely before half time, forcing a good save from Zilina keeper Dubravka from a curling effort, and Malouda also went close but failed to put enough power on his near post header that went straight at the keeper, after terrific work on the flank by Didier Drogba.

Despite these chances Zilina almost doubled their lead when Tomas Majtan cut in from the left, but saw his effort beaten away by Turnbull.

It was clear Ancelotti needed to get at his young side at half time and, as well as introducing Salomon Kalou in place of Kakuta, it made the difference as The Blues laid siege upon the visitor’s goal in the second period.

It took only 6 minutes for Kalou to make an impact as his low cross sneaked past two defenders, with Sturridge rewarded for his anticipation as he arrived at the back post to slot home the equaliser.

Then followed a host of chances, firstly Drogba headed straight at Dubravka, then Ramires’ brilliant technique went unrewarded as his swerving shot whistled just wide.

And when Drogba saw his free kick turned against the post, and Van Aanholt rattle the same upright it looked as if it was to be one of those nights.

However, relief was on hand as substitute Nicolas Anelka’s cross was nodded down by Drogba and the arriving Malouda slid in for the winner.

It made it five wins out of five and keeps Chelsea on course to become the first British side to win all 6 Champions League group games, and also brought some relief in the midst of a difficult period for club.

The biggest plus being that for the next few days people will be talking about some of Chelsea’s rising stars rather than off-the-pitch matters.

Chelsea: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Ramires, Malouda, McEachran (Mellis 90), Strurridge (Anelka 74), Kakuta (Kalou 46), Drogba.

MSK Zilina: Dubravka, Angelovic, Pecalka, Guldan, Placek, Gergel, Jez, Vladavic (Rilke 90), Majtan (Poliacek 85), Oravec (Ceesay 64), Babtounde.

Man of the Match: Josh McEachran

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