Two goals and an assist gave Nicolas Anelka a glow of satisfaction as he thrived in a central role to help Chelsea FC to 4-1 win at MŠK Žilina, who were outclassed, Mário Pečalka conceded.
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Nicolas Anelka struck a satisfied note after scoring twice and creating another in Chelsea FC's 4-1 opening UEFA Champions League victory at MŠK Žilina.
The French forward, who was employed centrally as opposed to his usual role wide on the right, teed up Michael Essien for the game's opening goal before putting the Group F result beyond doubt with two further first-half strikes of his own. "I tried to do my job," said Anelka. "I was playing as a striker, so I tried to move everywhere. It's always good to score and it was nice to provide an assist as well, so I'm quite happy."
On the scoresheet for the first time in the UEFA Champions League was England Under-21 striker Daniel Sturridge, who was handed a start by coach Carlo Ancelotti in the absence of the suspended Didier Drogba. "I'm very happy," Sturridge said. "The manager showed faith by playing me in this game and hopefully I repaid him with the goal. Obviously the team won, so all in all I'm happy."
A centre forward by trade, Sturridge jumped at the chance to play on the right of a three-pronged attack in Slovakia. "I'm used to playing in the centre, but it's good to learn new positions," he explained. "I am left-footed but the likes of Messi play on the opposite side to their stronger foot so obviously it has its benefits."
Player Rater Top Player Anelka went on to praise group-stage debutants Žilina for their willingness to attack, but conceded that their positive approach was perhaps a contributing factor in their downfall. "
It was easier for us because they tried to play football," the 31-year-old said. "They gave us so much room at the back, it was good."
Žilina defender Mário Pečalka agreed that the home side were simply outclassed in spite of their attempts to keep pace with the Premier League champions. "We try to play attacking football in our league and we didn't change that against Chelsea," Pečalka said. "
We tried to open them up, but there was a big difference in quality compared to the Slovakian league."
Having reached at least the semi-finals in five of the last seven editions of the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea have the added motivation of a Wembley final next May. One thing the Blues will certainly be able to count on as they bid to go one better than their runners-up finish in 2007/08 is the coming of age of young forward Sturridge: "I turned 21 on 1 September, so I'm a man now."