Chelsea FC put their recent problems behind them with a resounding UEFA Champions League victory by the same scoreline with which they removed Valencia CF from last season's quarter-finals.
In Avram Grant's first European match at the helm, Chelsea came from behind to claim their first win in this term's competition, their spirit epitomised by John Terry who played with a face mask following surgery on a fractured cheekbone. David Villa gave the Spanish side an early advantage but a Joe Cole goal and a Didier Drogba strike gave a real boost to the new Stamford Bridge regime.
There was an immediate scare for Chelsea when Joaquín got away down the right and flashed the ball all the way across the area. From a tight angle David Silva shot wide. That was followed by a simple kick out for Petr Čech which he sliced horribly; Chelsea were clearly unnerved in this noisy, steamy atmosphere and Valencia were in the mood to inflict punishment.
They did not have long to wait, though there was an element of fortune about the goal which originated from a dynamic Villa surge in the ninth minute. Possession was lost but as Chelsea tried to clear their lines, Paulo Ferreira smashed the ball into Michael Essien. In a flash Villa was on to the rebound, his brain working far quicker than those wearing blue, and he tucked a neat shot past the goalkeeper.
Chelsea poured forward in numbers when the chance presented itself and Drogba had a low drive deflected wide. Far more penetrative was a smart break at the other end with which Fernando Morientes cleverly took out two defenders. It left Joaquín with a clear run on goal and Čech was grateful to grasp the shot between his legs. In the next instant Chelsea carved out an equaliser. Drogba was involved and when Florent Malouda took up the running down the left he squared a lovely ball to the far post where Cole got the final touch to direct the ball into the net under pressure from Emiliano Moretti.
It was a cracker of a match and there could have been more goals before the break. Drogba lifted a powerful shot just a fraction too high while Villa was almost as close when Ricardo Carvalho cleared the ball straight to him. Valencia knew that the interval scoreline did not reflect the problems they had caused the Chelsea defence and they resumed on the offensive, Moretti directing a header the wrong side of the post.
Thing of beauty
Then Chelsea almost paid the price for again failing to deal with the bustling presence of Morientes, Villa profiting to find the net only to be ruled offside. However, the visitors' second goal in the 71st minute was a thing of beauty. Joe Cole picked up possession deep in his own half, made strides and then struck a wonderful pass with the outside of his boot. Valencia were stretched and Raúl Albiol could not keep pace with Drogba who finished with aplomb. In a late rally, Villa and Carlos Marchena both missed opportunities, as did Rubén Baraja who snatched at a shot with the final kick of the game.