For the third successive UEFA Champions League campaign, Chelsea FC got off to a winning start as an early Frank Lampard goal earned them their first three-point haul in Group G, though the English team's supremacy should have brought them a more comfortable victory.
José Mourinho gave Ricardo Carvalho his first taste of senior football this season in one of five changes to the side that had maintained Chelsea's 100 per cent record in the Premiership last weekend. Claude Makelele was fit after injury while Paulo Ferreira, Damien Duff and Didier Drogba all returned after taking a rest from domestic action.
Before the game there were presentations to Petr Čech and John Terry to recognise their awards as, respectively, best goalkeeper and best defender in the 2004/05 Champions League. It brought the home crowd to life and ready to roar their team off on what they hope will be another long European campaign; before then it had been the visiting fans making most noise inside Stamford Bridge.
The Belgian side had spoken beforehand of their privilege at starting against such illustrious opponents and the way they were set up added weight to the belief they considered themselves underdogs in this meeting. They stationed three tall centre-backs in front of goalkeeper Daniel Zitka and kept their full-backs on a tight rein so they were always on hand to strengthen the defensive ramparts.
Nevertheless, they were almost undone in the fourth minute when a Michael Essien volley from a short free-kick was kept out by Zitka. Anderlecht could not get the ball away and Duff followed up with a fierce shot which the keeper turned over the bar. The visitors were relying on breakaways and Mbo Mpenza showed the kind of damage they could inflict as he threaded a lovely pass in behind Terry. Serhat Akin was quickly on to it and clear but succeeded only in stabbing the ball well wide.
Lampard on target
Anderlecht then caused confusion from a left-wing corner. Those two moves might have helped improve their confidence but within two minutes they were behind, Lampard swerving his drive away from Zitka after Robben had rolled him a short free-kick.
After the goal Chelsea became frustrated with their inability to capitalise further on their vast supremacy in terms of possession. Robben in particular saw a lot of the ball but could not always pick out a team-mate with his pass. In fairness, he often found himself surrounded by three defenders who sometimes had to concede free-kicks to avert the danger.
The Anderlecht supporters remained in full voice even though their team were forced on the back foot for most of the match. Another Robben set-piece flew straight at Zitka at the start of the second period. The keeper had more to do when Lampard let fly another free-kick in the 62nd minute and this time he was able to get his hands to the ball.
Anderlecht hit post
The fragile nature of the single-goal advantage - even in a largely one-sided affair like this - was emphasised when Anthony Vanden Borre suddenly picked up possession for Anderlecht midway inside the Chelsea half. He went for goal and saw his shot divert off Terry and on to the foot of the post with Čech beaten.
Chances at both ends
That moment perked up the visitors and the Chelsea goal came under more pressure in the final stages. But at the other end Essien might have got a second for the home side but saw his attempt deflected wide.