New signings Damien Duff
and substitute Joe Cole set up the goals for Eidur Gudjohnsen
and an own goal in the first game of the Roman Abramovich
Three quarters of an hour before kick-off
rain suddenly descended at a furious rate which was
great news for the Chelsea players because the pitch
was like rock when they arrived.
All the new boys were heavily involved
in lovely passing movements in the first three minutes
of the game, and the final one of those resulted in
a Mikael Forssell shot being deflected for a corner.
But from that corner Chelsea were exposed, and the troublesome
Barcik hit an excellent pass for Durica with Zalina
three against one, but running Durica failed to control
and chasing Marcel Desailly cleared up.
Chelsea kept creating. The new boys
fashioned a fantastic chance when Juan Sebastian Verons
50 yard cross-field free-kick was wonderfully chested
down by Duff who then danced through Barcik and Zabavnik
before crossing low for Forssell to stab over under
Next, Gudjohnsen flicked Verons
pass expertly into Frank Lampards run, but the
England international when through smashed his low shot
fractionally wide of the far post when a goal looked
Thereafter, for most of the remainder
of the half, despite all the possession, despite all
the brilliant long passes, little flicks and extraordinary
movement, there was no threat. You almost longed for
a little less searching for brilliance and a little
more basics. Thats not to say there wasnt
hard work and covering and chasing and all the necessities
carried out, its just that too much was being
asked of everybody by everybody. And several people
were yet to show top form.
At the other end Zalina carried the
threat of Barcik all the time, but despite some good
passing moments of their own, they rarely penetrated
and never asked a question of Carlo Cudicini.
Duff forced the first booking when Sninsky
fouled him from behind ten minutes before half-time,
and with four minutes to go to the interval Duff produced
the product to go with the brilliance. He played a one-two
with Forssell and crossed low for Gudjohnsen, sliding
in at the far post, to net Chelseas first goal
of the Abramovich era. The pressure was lifted in time
for the break.
Zalina continued afterwards with their
4-1-41 formation, and Barcik produced for them again
with a fine cross, but Varadin headed over. Chelsea
responded with Wayne Bridge finding Duff in the inside-right
channel, and he went past a defender and hit a powerful
low right-footer which was well held by Trabalik.
With 12 minutes of the second-half gone
Claudio Ranieri made his first substitution. Jesper
Gronkjaer replaced Forssell, and Chelsea switched to
4-2-3-1 with Lampard holding in midfield with Geremi,
Gronkjaer and Duff forward up the flanks, Veron free
in the middle and Gudjohnsen alone up front.
Within three minutes Lampard had struck
a fierce 20 yarder which Trabalik held well low to his
Zilina coach Milan Lesicky must have
felt Chelseas right hand side was dominating because
he replaced his left hand side after 65 minutes, Drahno
for left-back Stasi and Putik for left-midefielder Durica.
Joe Cole made his debut on 69 minutes,
replacing Duff on the left-wing. He roamed more and
the structure wasnt so solid, but six minutes
later on the edge of the area he produced a marvellous
back-heel for Gudjohnsen, and under pressure substitute
left-back Drahno chipped his own goalkeeper for an entertaining
own goal. 0-2, match over.
There was still time for Lampard to
hit a 30 yarder which was punched round and to force
a block from the advancing Trabalik when he ran on to
Zilina showed their ambition when they
replaced sole striker Varadin with another sole striker
Putiki with nine minutes left.
When the referee blew his whistle for
time, the home team hadnt mustered one shot on
target. Great new players at Chelsea, and one happy