Chelsea 2 – 0 Levski Sofia

Match reports

Daily Telegraph, Martin Smith: “Andrei Shevchenko, one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of European club football, finally got back to doing what he does best, and opened his Champions League account for Chelsea at the fifth time of asking.”

The Guardian, Matt Scott: “Shevchenko’s finish recalled more prolific times in his illustrious career. Arjen Robben stabbed a simple pass to Frank Lampard, whose ball was played across to the Ukrainian. His first touch took him beyond Zhivko Milanov, his next, executed with the outside of his right boot, planted the ball deftly against the inside netting of Bozhidar Mitrev’s goal.”

The Times, Russell Kempson: “It was not a pretty performance but it did not need to be. Levski offered little at Stamford Bridge until it was too late, by which time they were undone by collector’s items – goals from Andriy Shevchenko and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Greater challenges lie ahead for Chelsea when the competition resumes in February.”

The Independent, Jason Burt: “Such was the smoothness of this encounter that Mourinho said it felt “like a friendly”. His side often ceded possession but never control against the Bulgarian champions, who were only denied a deserved late goal by two brilliant saves from Hilario – the second finger-tipping the ball on to the crossbar.”

The good

  1. A good night all round. A comfortable win which meant Chelsea finished top of arguably the most difficult group in the competition, no injuries or bookings, and both Andriy Shevchenko and Shaun Wright-Phillips’ names on the scoresheet.
  2. Andriy Shevchenko. Scored his first ever Champions League goal for Chelsea (a great finish), his 57th in European competition. The Ukranian moved above Eusebio and Raul into second place in the all-time lists. Let’s hope he scores the five he needs to draw level with Gerd Muller before this season’s Champions League campaign comes to an end.
  3. Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. Both worked tirelessly all night. It seems ridiculous that just a matter of weeks ago some fans were beginning to doubt Lampard. The fools. As for Essien: irreplaceable. The Ghanian also happens to be the best right-back at the club.
  4. Shaun Wright-Phillips. There can’t have been a Blue on the planet who wasn’t overjoyed to see the wee winger finally score his first competitive goal for the club. And what a goal. After the game Wright-Phillips said: “I don’t want to leave Chelsea. The goal meant a lot to me. The lads have given me lots of encouragement to do it.” I don’t want him to leave either, and neither does Jose Mourinho.
  5. Wayne Bridge. Despite missing the last five games, he looked every bit as good as he did earlier in the season. If only we had two right-backs of the same calibre as our left-backs.
  6. A special mention for Henrique Hilario. His fingertip save in the dying seconds of the game was superb. The Portuguese may well be required to play against Arsenal on Sunday; reports in this morning’s papers suggest Carlo Cudicini’s injury will keep him out of the game.

The bad

  1. No bad points really. If I was to be overly critical, I’d say Chelsea ceded far too much possession to Levski. Not that they took advantage of it. And I wasn’t that impressed with Paulo Ferreira.
  2. Oh, there is one bad point: Barcelona scraped through to the knock-out stages with a win over Werder Bremen at Camp Nou. The German side wasted all that generosity we showed them a fortnight ago.

Man of the Match

Andriy Shevchenko? Or Frank Lampard? Hmm…

Final thoughts

Finishing top of Group A may not prove that great an advantage, what with both Inter Milan and Real Madrid finishing second in their groups. At least we can’t draw Barcelona in the last sixteen. The draw will be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday 15th December.

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