The Guardian, Jon Brodkin: “Again this was not a spectacular Chelsea performance but Jose Mourinho has made it clear he cares little about that. A first Champions League away victory since November 2005 leaves his squad set fair in Group A with Barcelona next at Stamford Bridge, and they have now won six consecutive matches.”
The Times, Tom Dart: “Despite claiming before the match that he would pick his best side, Mourinho rested Claude Makelele and Ashley Cole. Wayne Bridge was excellent in Cole’s place and Michael Essien was a dynamic presence in the midfield holding role. Jon Obi Mikel, the teenager, made his first start and played with maturity except for one fit of pique after he was booked for feigning injury.”
Daily Telegraph, Christopher Davies: “Maximum points from their opening two games have seen Chelsea top of Group A, with Barcelona’s draw away to Werder Bremen putting pressure on the Catalans ahead of their two ties with the Premiership champions.”
The Independent, Glenn Moore: “There had been a small earthquake in Bulgaria on the eve of this tie. For half an hour last night it looked as if there could be a seismic shock for European football. Then Didier Drogba resumed his fine early-season form, striking his first hat-trick for Chelsea as they seized control of Champions’ League Group A.”
Daily Mail, Neil Ashton: “Mourinho said: “The most important thing is we have now won six matches in a row, we are top of the Premier League and we are top of the Champions League group. We are not even playing well and I know that there is so much more to come. Now I can concentrate on Aston Villa on Saturday and, after 15 days holiday (in the international break), I can think about Barcelona. That is my life.”
- Finally, an away win in Europe. With the first anniversary of our last triumph on the continent approaching, to remove a record which was fast becoming a millstone was a relief.
- The overall performance. Despite the early (and late) pressure from Sofia which is to be expected away from home in this competition, Chelsea controlled the game well without ever really moving out of third gear.
- Didier Drogba. Having spent two seasons with two centre-halves shadowing his every move, the freedom that playing with Shevchenko gives him has brought out the best in DD. Another magnificent performance and his first Chelsea hat-trick (and our first in Europe since Luca Vialli’s in the 7-1 trouncing of Tromso back in 1997).
- John Terry. Walking like an 90 year-old with lumbago on Saturday, 90 minutes of graft and determination four days later. Enough said.
- John Obi Mikel. Aside of the booking and the odd dying swan act, a superbly composed performance which bodes very well for the future.
- Barcelona dropping points in Germany. Whilst it goes some way to proving that the Bremen side Chelsea faced two weeks ago was rather below par, with back-to-back fixtures against Barcelona and the final game with Sofia at the Bridge last night’s results saw the Blues edge ahead in the race to top the group. Samuel Eto’o is also likely to miss the remainder of the group stages after picking up a knee injury against Bremen last night.
- The Lampard / Ballack conundrum. It would be interesting to hear what others think; two exceptional players who simply don’t seem to function that well together. A few signs of an understanding between the two are appearing, but after Lampard’s performance on Saturday against Fulham the obvious criticism is that one works better without the other.
- Andriy Shevchenko. Again, not bad but clearly a man in serious need of a confidence boosting goal. It will come; Barcelona at the Bridge would be an ideal time.
- That’s it really. Top of the Premier League and Champions League group, seven wins in eight. What’s not to like?!
Man of the Match
Didier Drogba. Who else?