Chelsea FC forward Florent Malouda was upbeat about their chances of sealing a place in the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League after the Group F leaders' 2-0 win over Olympique de Marseille.
Having trounced MŠK Žilina 4-1 on Matchday 1, Chelsea head a section in which FC Spartak Moskva also have six points while the other two sides have none. Captain John Terry's seventh-minute strike and a 28th-minute penalty from Nicolas Anelka secured the points, despite a sometimes torrid second half at Stamford Bridge.
However, with a double-header looming against Spartak, Malouda knows further wins should put them comfortably into the round of 16 draw. "I'm really happy tonight," said the French international. "
We did a great job against a French team we respect. We've got the result and we have reason to be optimistic. We've taken the lead in the group and now we're going to play against Moscow and we will try to qualify."
Malouda gave the latest in a series of top performances for the west London side; further confirmation that the late-blooming winger has been enjoying the best form of his career over the past couple of seasons. "I try to produce my best," he said. "It's not easy, but with the work I'm putting in during training I get good fitness and can reproduce this performance week in, week out." But he modestly quipped: "I'm 30 years old, it's the time to be in the best form of my life!"
Skipper Terry, meanwhile, was glad to have found the net and relieved that he and his fellow defenders were equal to the task in the second half. "It's nice to score," he acknowledged. "In the first half we played really well, but we soaked up a lot of pressure in the second."
Marseille's players accepted defeat by a better opponent on the night, but refused to give up hope of reaching the knockout rounds. Midfielder Benoît Cheyrou was open about the setback, admitting: "We're disappointed to have lost. It's hard enough to take points away from Chelsea on their own ground, but when you concede a goal that early it just makes things even more complicated. We lacked cool heads when it came to the moment of truth and that's where Chelsea were better than us. They were a class apart."
However, the lack of points on the board, following a 1-0 home defeat by Spartak on Matchday 1, was taken on the chin by Cheyrou's fellow midfielder Charles Kaboré. With twin fixtures to come against Žilina, Kaboré was optimistic about his team's prospects. "It was a difficult game but we're not going to let our heads go down," he said. "
We're going to keep fighting and who's to say we're not going to qualify? The aim now is to win our remaining home games and away to Žilina and perhaps even in Moscow. It's not over yet."
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