CHELSEA FC FANS - 19 AUGUST 2008 Opening day at Stamford Bridge couldn't have been any better for Chelsea FC and its full house crowd of 41,468 fans. Luiz Felipe Scolari enjoyed the perfect start to his coaching reign at The Bridge as Chelsea easily swept Portsmouth 4-Nil with Goalkeeper Petr Cech earning his first Clean Sheet of the new season.
Chelsea's recent summer signing Deco played an outstanding match throughout, leading the Blues attack all afternoon. Chelsea held control of the ball for an amazing 80 percent of match time and threatened to blow the game wide open early on. Chelsea started the scoring on 12 minutes with Joe Cole sliding a Michael Ballack pass into the Portsmouth net.
Chelsea's English Midfielder Joe Cole
Chelsea continued to press the Portsmouth backfield and it came as no suprise when Nicolas Anelka, (playing as the lone Chelsea forward) headed in Deco's cross from close range in the 26th minute. The fluidity of the Chelsea execution left very little to be desired. Chelsea outshined and outfinessed their opponent.
The only disruption for Chelsea came in the 38th minute when Michael Ballack was forced to leave the game with an injury to his right ankle. In the long run this could prove to be damaging. As we all remember, Ballack had to undergo surgery on that ankle last season and missed alot of time while rehabilitating from the operation. Ballack continued to suffer discomfort in the ankle during the Euro Cup 2008 tornament. It's still unknown wether or not he'll be available to play for Germany in Wednesday's friendly match against Belgium or in Chelsea's week 2 match at Wigan Athletic this coming Sunday 24 August. For this week though, the absence of Ballack went unnoticed because Chelsea never skipped a beat even without him.
Another high point of the match was the play of Frank Lampard who just signed a new contract with Chelsea less than a week ago. Lampard scored the first goal of his new contract at the 45 minute mark on a free kick awarded to Chelsea because of a Sylvain Distin hand ball. Lampard's goal was a real crowd pleaser and brought about a standing ovation from all in attendance at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea headed for the dressing room with a 3-nil halftime lead.
John Terry congratulates Frank Lampard after his penalty kick. Lampard was quoted as saying, "this is the best half of football you'll see us play this season."
In the second half Scolari's team was content with holding possesion of the ball and protecting their lead. Portsmouth registered a few good strikes on goal but Petr Cech, playing his usual brand of physical football, was determined not to yield to the Portsmouth pressure.
And then came the icing on the cake. In the 89th minute, it was Deco who stunned the crowd with his debut goal. He picked up the ball on the right and laid it off. When it came back, he struck it like a bullet towards the Portsmouth net. keeper David James really should have kept it out, but take nothing away from Deco's crowning moment. He had a fantastic personal performance, combined with a great team display.
Deco delights in Chelsea Debut with his 89th minute goal
When the final whistle blew, Chelsea was all smiles. That included Blues owner Roman Abramovich who had to be overwhelmed with his team's opening day performance.
Realizing just how tough things get down the stretch of the EPL season, it's of great importance for Chelsea to get as many points on the table early as possible and this was the start we were looking for. Congratulation to Chelsea FC and Chelsea fans everywhere.
2008-09 Table After Week 1
Chelsea1003 Aston Villa1003 Bolton1003 Blackburn1003 Middlesbrough1003 West Ham United1003 Hull City1003 Liverpool1003 Arsenal1003 Newcastle United0101 Manchester United0101 Everton0010 Fulham0010 Tottenham0010 Wigan Athletic FC0010 Sunderland0010 West Brom0010 Manchester City0010 Stoke City0010 Portsmouth0010
WEEK 2 - SUNDAY AUGUST 24,2008
CHELSEA AT WIGAN ATHLETIC / 8:30 am EDT
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