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New manager, but a familiar story for Chelsea FC as they got off to their customary winning start in the UEFA Champions League as Nicolas Anelka took the lead role in the absence of Didier Drogba to decide an entertaining game against FC Porto at Stamford Bridge.
The heavens opened, but it could not rain on Carlo Ancelotti's parade as the Italian saw his side continue the winning form which has put them out in front in the Premier League with five successive victories. Yet Ancelotti will be the first to credit the efforts of the Portuguese champions, who went toe to toe with the home team and came close to interrupting Chelsea's march towards a sixth Matchday 1 win in eight attempts.
It took Chelsea time to find their normal fluency in this Group D fixture as Porto adopted a forceful approach, their strength and physicality appearing to unnerve the hosts. Frank Lampard was the first to threaten, but no sooner had Helton pushed that aside than Porto were on the attack with a raking drive from Hulk forcing Petr Čech to save with his knees.
A heavy blow to the face which necessitated lengthy treatment for John Terry further slowed the Chelsea machine, but gradually they got a grip of the conditions and their game. Lampard should have made more of a free header at the far post before the ball fell nicely at the feet of Anelka whose shot struck two defenders before diverting to safety.
Branislav Ivanović, in the mode of José Bosingwa who he was filling in for at right-back, wasted no time in getting forward and from out wide he conjured a number of dangerous crosses. They were tailor-made for Drogba to ram home but without their attacking talisman – who, like Bosingwa, was suspended – the chances went begging. Porto were defending manfully with the giant Fredy Guarín an effective presence in front of the back four. Just before the break Guarín ventured upfield and his header from Álvaro Pereira's cross only just cleared Čech's crossbar.
Hulk again demonstrated his threat to the Chelsea defence at the start of the second half with a deceptive change of direction that fooled Terry, but he opted for another touch and the promise subsided. Anelka showed more decisiveness as he engineered the breakthrough. Fastening onto Salomon Kalou's prod he blasted the ball at Helton and was then alert enough to squeeze the rebound in from a tight angle. Ivanović continued to impress with another sweeping cross finding Kalou at the far post, but Helton was equal to the header with a plunging save. From the corner Ivanović rose highest, but sent his header just over.
Porto made it a testing final 20 minutes for Chelsea as Álvaro Pereira continued to create openings down the left. Substitute Falcao escaped to fire at Čech and then Guarín demanded the goalkeeper stoop low to keep out his effort. With eight minutes remaining Čech was there again to keep out Silvestre Varela's far-post volley, and the night ended disappointingly for the visitors as Fernando was ordered off for a second yellow card.
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