When Salomon Kalou scores a brace, you know we’ve had a good game.
Not that it looked like that to start with, I mean, there was plenty of frustration in the first half – particularly from Salomon Kalou. If he wasn’t missing open goals, he was having others’ efforts ruled out because he couldn’t stay onside. In fact, aside from a couple of decent runs down the right from Belletti which came to nothing, and Forlan and Aguero prompting the odd nibbled nail, the first half hour really wasn’t anything to get excited about. Ok, we played some nice football – notably Deco and Lampard – but our final ball wasn’t exactly inspiring.
That all changed 40 minutes in though when Lampard’s through ball saw Ashley Cole cross for Kalou, who wasn’t quite so overawed to find himself in front of goal this time and tapped it past the keeper. 1-0 and the home crowd woken up just in time for a cuppa.
Second half and Michael Essien who’d clearly been chewing on nuts and bolts rather than the obligatory orange at half-time showed exactly why he’s known as the Beast rather than ‘twinkle toes’. Ouch. Anelka, who along with Kalou, needs to revisit the offside rule before the weekend, hit a storming shot that really deserved to go in although Asenjo had other ideas. He wasn’t keeping out the next one though, as a Frank Lampard corner was dispatched past him courtesy of Kalou’s head.
And we looked pretty good for it and all. It wasn’t Barcelona-esque but we were comfortable enough, give or take the odd foul. Lampard, who without any doubt at all looked a lot more assured than he has all season, capped off a really good performance with a bit of a collectors item this season as he drove the ball home from the edge of the area – needless to say the celebrations, both on and off the pitch had relief written all over them.
Anything after that was always going to be a bonus, so with Malouda and Zhirkov coming on for Ashley Cole and Kalou, swiftly followed by whatshisname coming on for Anelka – you know, that young lad we signed in the summer? – you’d assume that’d be enough activity to see out the game. As it turned out, I’m sure Perea would have preferred it that way but unfortunately for the Atletico defender, there was still just enough time for him to head into his own net.
Overall then, if you skim over the persistent offsides, a decent performance from us. Frank Lampard looked just about back to his best, playing some lovely football with Deco and whether you think he puts any effort in or not, Michael Ballack definitely gives our midfield something. And with us all but through to the knockout stages already, it’s a fair bet we might start seeing that other kid introduced regularly enough in this competition for us to remember his name.
CHELSEA: Petr Cech, Juliano Belletti, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ashley Cole (Malouda 75), Michael Essien, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, Deco, Salomon Kalou (Zhirkov, 73), Nicolas Anelka (Sturridge, 78)
Unused Subs: Hilario, Carvalho, J Cole, Bruma.
ATLETICO MADRID: Sergio Asenjo, Ujfalusi, Perea, Dominguez, Antonio Lopez, Cleber Santana, Raul Garcia, Paulo Assuncao, Simao, Forlan, Aguero. Subs: De Gea, Jurado, Maxi, Sinama Pongolle, Juanito, Reyes, Pablo.