The cameras panned to Roman Abramovich both after Chelsea FC had fallen behind against Rosenborg BK and again as they struggled to make good the deficit. On both occasions the London club's Russian owner was wreathed in smiles. It was a strange sight and nobody else inside Stamford Bridge of a Chelsea persuasion was looking so perky. This was a difficult night, a stumbling performance, and Chelsea cannot wait for Matchday 2 to try and put things right.
The Norwegian champions are hardly accustomed to going in front against the UEFA Champions League's major sides. It has happened on very few occasions but here they were, a team struggling to exert their normal dominance back home where they lie fifth, 13 points off the lead, enjoying themselves at Chelsea's expense. It took the home team until the 63rd minute to equalise Miika Koppinen's first-half opener as Andriy Shevchenko nodded in Florent Malouda’s precise centre. Both before and after that strike, a host of scoring opportunities came and went. Shots and headers flashed wide of the posts, the woodwork was rattled twice but on only that single occasion was goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld beaten.
Ashley Cole attempted to put the result in perspective and refused to subscribe to the downcast mood of the fans who booed their favourites off. "It's only one game and there's still a long way to go," said the Chelsea and England left-back. "There are a lot of other teams to play and if we win every game we'll go through. It's a big blow and a little bit disappointing but it's not the end of the world. I don't think it's a crisis to be honest."
Chelsea have to put matters right sooner rather than later because on Sunday comes the little matter of Manchester United FC and a visit to Old Trafford which, even in these early days, is sure to have a big bearing on the outcome of the Premier League. Apart from the inability to seize more than one of what manager José Mourinho calculated were 20 chances, there is real concern about the number of set-piece goals they are conceding, such as the 24th-minute free-kick which Koppinen volleyed in at the near post.
"For our standards we are conceding so many goals from set plays and that was never the case in previous seasons," acknowledged goalkeeper Petr Čech. "We need to think about it and try to change things. Rosenborg came to defend, they had a plan to disturb our passing, waiting for counterattacks and free-kicks and it was disappointing that from the first one they got they scored. It was one of those games. We could have been playing for three days and only scored one goal."
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