Anelka gives Blues victory

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Football News

A first-half goal from Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus.

Anelka struck in the 18th minute when he collected a pass from Juliano Belletti and curled a shot into the top corner of the net.

Chelsea, beaten 3-1 by Wigan on Saturday, were poor again but the home side did not possess sufficient quality to punish the Blues. Victory keeps Chelsea top of Group D with a 100% record, even if the performance does not bode well for their home clash with title rivals Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Cypriots, playing their first Champions League game at home, sprayed the ball around with confidence in the opening moments but for a team that had already beaten Partizan Belgrade and FC Copenhagen in the qualifiers, some self-assurance was only to be expected.

Those results, allied to a creditable opening Group D draw with Atletico Madrid, had put Apoel on the footballing map. But despite their bright opening, they created little to concern the English side who began to take control of the midfield.

After Michael Essien and Frank Lampard had gone close, Chelsea went ahead in the 18th minute when Juliano Belletti made a fine run down the right flank before pulling the ball back superbly for Anelka to send a curling drive into the roof of the net.

Anelka's fourth goal of the season was his second in this Champions League campaign, the France international having scored the only goal of their opening round victory over Porto at Stamford Bridge.

Although the Blues dominated, they were pedestrian in their approach and careless with their passing. Chelsea were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at the start of the second-half but Apoel were unable to make the Blues pay for their carelessness though.

Chelsea increased the tempo but their decision-making remained poor and they struggled to find a way through the home defence.

In the 64th minute Chelsea had Petr Cech to thank for preserving their lead when he saved superbly with his feet from Savvas Poursaitides, while Constantinos Charalambides almost shocked Chelsea with an equaliser in the 85th minute but he headed wide at the far post. But Chelsea held on to record a second 1-0 success that keeps them top of the table.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Petr Cech
European News
Nicolas Anelka
Premier League
Juliano Belletti
UEFA Champions League
Wigan Athletic
Michael Essien

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