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Chelsea cruise to opening victory

Published: Wednesday 13 September 2006, 0.50CET
Chelsea FC 2-0 Werder Bremen Michael Essien and Michael Ballack, with his first Chelsea goal, helped the home side open their account in London.
by Trevor Haylett
from Stamford Bridge
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Published: Wednesday 13 September 2006, 0.50CET

Chelsea cruise to opening victory

Chelsea FC 2-0 Werder Bremen Michael Essien and Michael Ballack, with his first Chelsea goal, helped the home side open their account in London.

Michael Ballack's first goal for Chelsea FC and Michael Essien's first for them in the UEFA Champions League, carried the London team to their customary opening-day victory in the competition. Their fifth attempt at landing the European crown saw them chalk up a fifth successive Matchday 1 win.

Ballack influential
It was a big night for Michael Ballack, a UEFA Champions League debut with Chelsea and with many of his team-mates from the FIFA World Cup lining up against him. He had a part in the home side's first attack, inside 20 seconds, which had Andriy Shevchenko claiming he was held off as he pursued the pass. Ballack almost put the Ukraine striker in a couple of minutes later – this time Shevchenko had strayed offside. It was an auspicious beginning by the Germany captain and a couple of heated confrontations with the Bremen players showed he was not treating it as an occasion to renew friendly acquaintances.

Drogba close
Chelsea kept up the pressure and Didier Drogba did well to get his head to Essien's cross, the effort flying perilously close to the left-hand upright. With Ashley Cole, given his first start since his move from Arsenal FC, granted the freedom to push on down the left, the Premiership champions were an impressive force on the front foot though John Terry had to react sharply to cut out a dangerous ball when Pierre Wome released Tim Borowski.

Essien strikes
The opening goal owed much to the drive and tenacity of Frank Lampard. His advance appeared to have been covered by Petri Pasanen but the defender got in a muddle with the ball caught between his feet. Lampard lunged in again and that created a chance for Essien, which he calmly tucked away. Yet Bremen will have been pleased with the way they finished the half, taking the challenge to the Londoners and giving Petr Čech something to think about. Miroslav Klose evaded Ricardo Carvalho to work a shooting opportunity but then saw the ball deflect off the head of defender Khalid Boulahrouz.

Klose call
The visitors continued to see a lot of possession at the start of the second period with Wome always ready to find forward positions and Diego showing an imaginative use of the ball. They should have drawn level when a cross from the right found Chelsea's central defenders struggling but Klose got underneath his attempted header.

End to end
Diego lifted a free-kick over the crossbar as the home crowd tried to raise their side. Chelsea responded and Cole's deep delivery landed on Drogba's foot at the far post. He took careful aim but found only the side-netting. It could have been 2-0, instead it almost became 1-1 as Klose met Thorsten Frings's floated ball with a superb header that came back off the bar. With Bremen hinting at the equaliser, Ballack's 68th-minute penalty after Drogba had been fouled by Clemens Fritz was perfectly timed for José Mourinho's men. Chelsea then finished the game in control and Lampard rifled a shot against a post before the final whistle.

Last updated: 13/09/06 10.42CET

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