The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: "A 1–0 win will make Stamford Bridge misty-eyed with reminiscences of the hardiness shown in days gone by, but this was no grinding success. Chelsea are fairly well-placed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals because they both attacked with verve, particularly at Didier Drogba’s splendid goal, and resisted efficiently to see out the victory in the closing 20 minutes."
Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: "Drogba scored one, but deserved more for his marauding attacking, particularly in the first half largely dominated by Chelsea. Juventus raised their game after the break, and Ranieri’s team may believe they can over-turn Chelsea’s slender advantage before their passionate support in a fortnight, but there is a resilience to this team reinvigorated by Guus Hiddink."
The Times, Oliver Kay: "For now, it is all about results for Chelsea and with Didier Drogba scoring the only goal of the night after 12 minutes, they will travel to Turin for the second leg on March 10 believing that they can finish off the job. As with Arsenal’s lead over Roma and Manchester United’s theoretical advantage over Inter Milan, it is slender, but, with Hiddink at the helm, Chelsea look more capable of defending a lead than they did a couple of weeks ago in the dark final days of the short-lived Luiz Felipe Scolari regime."
The Independent, Sam Wallace: "Drogba scored the first-half goal last night that meant Chelsea go to Turin for the second leg on 10 March with an advantage, although it was far more slender than the one they might have hoped for having dominated the beginning of the game. While, in years past, Chelsea might have been expected to flatten a vulnerable opponent, now they seem to drift aimlessly for long periods unable to focus on what once made them such an implacable opponent in Europe."
Official Chelsea FC Website: "Juventus, led by Claudio Ranieri, had their share of chances, but could not convert against a solid and assured looking Chelsea backline."
There was nothing but goodwill on show for the return to Stamford Bridge of Claudio Raneiri. The reception he received prior to kick-off was heartwarming and more than deserved, because he played a huge part in making the club what it is today.
Guus Hiddink made just the one change to the side that beat Aston Villa at the weekend, with Ashley Cole returning from suspension to replace Paulo Ferreira at left-back. The formation seemed much the same, a 4-1-4-1 with plenty of width provided by Salomon Kalou and Nicolas Anelka, who were supported by the full-backs.
It was the first ever meeting between Chelsea and Juventus.
- Frank Lampard. Another all-action, Man of the Match performance from Lamps. He seemed to be everywhere at once, in attack, midfield and back defending when needed. Simply outstanding. The only thing missing was a goal, but you can almost guarantee that he’ll get to 20 again before May. He’s gradually edging ahead of John Obi Mikel, who also had a fine game, and Ashley Cole as my player of the season.
- Didier Drogba. Back to his marauding, defence-harrying best. Probably should have scored a hat-trick in the opening 15 minutes and one or two more in the second half but he didn’t have his heading head on. Took his goal really well though after a great first touch from a lovely Kalou pass which split the Juventus back four. His second half performance wasn’t to the same standard but that was probably down to a lack of quality service from midfield as Juve came back into it. What must Phil Scolari be thinking.
- First half performance. For the most part we made Juve look pretty ordinary. Their defence was nervy and struggled to cope with Drogba, Kalou was on his game, and Lampard and Mikel were running midfield. We should have gone in at the break at least two goals to the good. There were one or two anxious moments in our back four but Petr Cech kept the aging duo of Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved at bay with some sharp saves.
- Salomon Kalou. Gave Juve’s left-back, who was voted the best defender in Serie A last season, a torrid time; his pass for Drogba’s goal was pretty good too. His tendency to run down blind alleys and not see the right pass still lets him down though, but it’s a side of his game we should be used to by now. By the way, what has happened to Ricardo Quaresma? He didn’t even make the bench. I thought he looked decent on his debut against Hull and he has since scored a couple of goals for the reserves as well. I’d choose him ahead of Florent Malouda every time.
- Our performance in the second half wasn’t good. After a bright start it got a bit one-nil-will-do. It was similar to Saturday’s performance at Villa Park, in that we gradually let our opponents take control and didn’t create any clear cut goal scoring opportunities of our own. Hiddink’s decision to replace the impressive Kalou with Malouda was a strange one that didn’t help our cause. Bringing on Michael Mancienne for the subdued and booked Michael Ballack with 10 minutes to go was understandable, but it gave our midfield a disjointed look which Juve took advantage of. Drogba seemed knackered by this point and wasn’t interested in tracking back, and we kept losing possession too easily. Still, Juve weren’t good enough to take advantage and we hung on, which ultimately is all that matters. After our last two games, I’m interested to see what will happen if we go 1-0 up early on against Wigan at the Bridge on Saturday. Same again?
Michael Ballack gets a 6 as does Alex. Everyone else gets a 7, bar Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou who get a 7.5, and Frank Lampard who gets an 8.
Man of the Match
It has to be Frank Lampard. He was at his best for most of the 90 minutes whereas Didier Drogba faded and Salomon Kalou got substituted with a quarter of the game to go.
On the evidence of the first half, a second goal would probably have killed the tie. Even when Juve had us on the back foot after the break, they failed to create many clear cut goal scoring opportunities.
As it is the return leg in a fortnight’s time is sure to be a tense and nail-biting affair, especially as we haven’t won an away game in the Champions League in our last six attempts. Let’s hope we nick an away goal, because I cannot see Juve scoring three, not now that Hiddink has restored a resilience to the side that was missing under Scolari. We look capable of defending a lead again whereas just a few weeks ago we couldn’t defend a set piece.
Long may it continue. 1-0’s all the way to the final is fine by me.