Apoel Nicosia 0-1 Chelsea: Nicolas Anelka Strike Nets Blues All Three Points
Chelsea bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a laboured 1-0 win over Cypriot champions Apeol Nicosia to make it two wins out of two in the Champions League this season.
Nicolas Anelka was again the match-winner and there was a European return for Joe Cole but for long periods Chelsea created very little and the home side almost did enough to steal a point from their more illustrious opponents.
Chelsea made three changes from the team that lost at Wigan at the weekend with Juliano Belletti coming in for the injured John Obi Mikel, and Branislav Ivanovic and Saloman Kalou deputising for the suspended Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba.
Ashley Cole recovered from his knee problem in time and continued at left-back, with Carlo Ancelotti adopting a 4-4-3 formation in favour of the diamond. The hosts, holding their first ever Champions League game, were without Polish strikers Adrian Sikora and Marcin Zewlakow as well as defenders Joost Broerse and Paolo Jorge because of injury.
With the Cypriot side happy to play an open game and make a good impression, Chelsea were quick to exploit the time and space with Michael Essien going close early on with a shot from outside the box that flashed wide.
Seventeen minutes in and Chelsea were ahead. Belletti skipped past his marker on the right wing, then picked out Nicolas Anelka on the corner of the penalty box and the Frenchman clipped the ball past Nicosia keeper Dionisis Chiotis into the far corner of the net. His second goal in as many Champions League games.
From then on Chelsea controlled the first half with either team really threatening. Flourent Malouda hit a shot from 25 yards that sailed over the bar while Christos Kontis had Apoel’s best chance with a header from a corner that went high and wide.
The home side came out for the second half much livelier and forced Petr Cech into his first meaningful save just after the hour mark. Savvas Poursaitidies found room on edge of the Chelsea and his shot deflected of John Terry, forced Cech to make a difficult save. From the resulting corner, Boban Grncarov just missed a header that flashes across goal.
Malouda had Chelsea’s only chance of the second half, shooting straight at Chiotis from a Ivanovic cross but there was little else to shout about in the second half for the visitors apart from a European return for Joe Cole
Constantinos Charalambides’ saw a diving header go the wrong side of the but there was to be no fairytale debut for the Apeol fans and Chelsea maintained their 100% record in Group D.