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Chelsea wins 1-0 to Juventus

Didier Drogba rekindled Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions with a first-half matchwinner as Juventus were beaten 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.It gives Guus Hiddink’s side a slender advantage ahead of their last-16 second leg in Turin in a fortnight.Drogba, his season hampered by injury, suspension and a fallout with axed coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, looked back to his predatory best when he took a pass from Salomon Kalou and despatched the ball beyond Gianluigi Buffon in the 12th minute.Former Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri, now in charge of Juve, was given a warm reception by the home fans before the game.Ranieri is still held in high esteem by Chelsea fans even though he failed to win a single trophy during his four-year stint at Stamford Bridge.Ranieri’s welcome was reciprocated by the home fans for their new interim coach Guus Hiddink moments later.Hiddink was taking charge of a Chelsea side at home for the first time since his temporary appointment.
It was the English side who made the first inroads towards goal with Jose Bosingwa forcing Gianluigi Buffon into a save with a left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area in the fourth minute.
Four minutes later Drogba almost opened the scoring when he got ahead of his marker to turn a cross from Bosingwa just over the crossbar.But the Ivorian put the home side in front in the 12th minute when a superb through ball from Salomon Kalou provided him with a clear-cut shooting opportunity and Drogba supplied the required finish in style.It was the perfect start for the English side although Juventus claimed Drogba was offside before he fired the ball home from 10 yards.In the 15th minute, Drogba should have made it two when he met a corner from Frank Lampard inside the six-yard box.But the Ivorian inexplicably headed the ball wide of Buffon’s right-hand upright.
It required a fine save from Petr Cech to preserve Chelsea’s lead in the 21st minute, when Alessandro Del Piero tried to find the corner with an angled drive that was tipped round the post.Juventus were enjoying their best spell of the game with Del Piero always a threat.In the 31st minute, Ashley Cole saw a 30-yard shot deflected wide of the target with Buffon flatfooted.
The Serie A side were struggling to match Chelsea’s determination and the English team’s passion was underlined by two bone-crunching tackles from John Terry in space of a few seconds.The second one left Mohamed Sissoko requiring treatment before being classed as able to resume his duties.
In the 41st minute, Pavel Nedved tested Cech with a 20-yard low drive that the Chelsea goalkeeper dealt with adequately enough.Juventus were finding it hard to cope with the physical side of the game and Mauro Camoranesi also required lengthy treatment before continuing.Two minutes before the interval a handball by Drogba gave Del Piero the chance to level the scores but his free-kick was hit straight at Cole.It could have been worse for the visitors had Kalou not slipped as he tried to get on the end of Cech’s long clearance.Chelsea continued their high tempo at the start of the second half.
Some fine work by Lampard on the edge of the penalty area culminated in a shot from Michael Ballack that was wide of the target.An away goal would have tipped the tie in favour of the Italians and Nedved again tried to outwit Cech with a long-range effort but the Chelsea keeper was at his most alert to deal with the threat.Drogba, a constant threat, almost scored his second of the night when he got ahead of Nicola Legrottaglie to head a cross fromBosingwa just wide.In the 50th minute Juventus lost the services of Camoranesi with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Marco Marchionni.
Moments later John Mikel Obi was the recipient of a bad challenge by Cristian Molinaro and the Juve player was justifiably booked.Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Drogba was brought down by Legrottaglie in the 53rd minute but Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca rejected their appeals.It was all Chelsea now with a sustained spell of pressure ending in a 20-yard shot by Lampard straight at Buffon’s midriff.In the 57th minute, Ballack was yellow-carded for a foul on Nedved.
Cech was in trouble with a free-kick from Del Piero in the 59th minute. The Czech Republic international twice failed to gather the ball before it was eventually cleared by Terry.Marchionni then gave Cech a scare with an angled 25-yard drive that flashed just over the bar. Juventus piled on the pressure as the game entered the last 15 minutes but Chelsea’s rearguard admirably stuck to its task.Indeed, they prevented the Italian side from engineering a clear-cut chance despite having the lion’s share of possession in the closing stages.But it was Anelka who almost gave Chelsea the cushion of a second goal when his 20-yard effort flashed inches wide of an upright in the 87th minute.Nedved was wide by a similar margin in stoppage time but Chelsea held on for a deserved victory.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | football | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chelsea boss Guss Hiddink


New Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink is confident he has inherited a unified squad after failing in his search for possible divisions.The Blues have been stung by reports of discontent in the dressing room with skipper John Terry hinting that Luiz Felipe Scolari was not supported by all players.Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack have both emphatically denied agitating for the removal of Hiddink’s predecessor, who departed Stamford Bridge 10 days ago.One of the tasks facing Hiddink has been to asses player morale yet during his first week in charge the Dutchman has found only harmony.”I am not totally naive,” said Hiddink, speaking to the English media for the first time this morning.”I wanted to see whether anything which has been said about the recent past is true.”You can see when you play games whether the players get emotional.”You can’t mask things then – you show your emotions and show whether you get at a certain player.”But I haven’t seen that. They respect each other. What I noticed is that they are a united squad.
“There are 20-plus players and I’m realistic enough to know that one to 11 will be very happy and the rest will want to play.”But they know they are in a big club and that not everyone can play.”I’m not fully aware of the struggles that went on before and I’m not that interested in what people assume to be struggles.”I’ve noticed how people behave and how people do or don’t get on with each other, but in my view that has not happened so far.”I have watched the team from a little distance in the locker room over the last few days and I can’t see any division.”Hiddink will perform his Chelsea duties alongside his role as Russia coach, a post he is contracted to hold up to and including the 2010 World Cup.However, a successful spell at Stamford Bridge would raise serious doubts over his departure with his close relationship with Roman Abramovich potentially smoothing the permanent transition from Russia to Chelsea.But the 62-year-old is adamant he remains committed to Russia and only took the Blues position because of convenient gaps in the international fixture list.”The situation is that Chelsea made a decision. They asked me to help until the end of the season,” he said.
“I have a full-hearted obligation with the Russian Football Federation which I will fulfil until the end of the season.”The international calendar is such that at the end of March there are two games and then nothing until June.”If the schedule had been different, it would have been difficult. So I will go back in March and then again at the end of May.”I’m here until the end of the season and with regards to who Chelsea are signing after that, it’s up to them not   me.”Hiddink’s first match in charge is tomorrow’s crucial Barclays Premier League clash with third-placed Aston Villa.Chelsea sit 10 points behind Manchester United but Hiddink refuses to concede the title race and is determined to finish the season with some silverware.”Realistically it’s difficult to catch United. If you’re leading with 10 points you feel comfortable. But things can change in a few minutes,” he said.”In the other two competitions Chelsea are still in the race. That’s the challenge – I’m not just here to pass time until the end of the season.”The players are used to winning trophies so let’s try and repeat it. If we don’t we can’t be happy.
“The priority is Villa Park. It’s the cliche answer – the next game is the most important. After that it’s Juventus.”

February 21, 2009 Posted by | football | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment