Champions League - Anelka brace in Chelsea win
Tue, 22 Feb 21:50:00 2011
The French striker helped the English champions snare their first win in four outings with two delicious strikes before 36,500 fans at the Danish capital's noisy Parken Stadium.
The goals take Anelka's tally to seven in six Champions League matches. The win was no more than Carlos Ancelotti's side deserved from a one-sided contest.
Ancelotti, a figure under some scrutiny after recent happenings, opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Anelka partnering Fernando Torres.
Didier Drogba was deemed surplus to requirements in dropping to the bench.
That decision paid dividends as early as the 18th minute when Anelka picked up a sloppy pass from former Chelsea player Jesper Gronkjaer.
He bounded into the box with some purpose to thump a shot under the home goalkeeper Johan Wiland.
Anelka added the second on 54 minutes by rattling the ball beyond Wiland from Frank Lampard's lovely reverse pass.
Drogba replaced Anelka for the last 15 minutes with Chelsea already worthy winners after overpowering a home side who looked rusty after an 11-week winter break in their domestic season.
They are the first Danish side to reach the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition, but look out of their depth in such distinguished company.
Danish hopes were quickly put to bed as Chelsea opened up the home team almost at will.
Wiland made a fine block to thwart Torres on 12 minutes only moments after Anelka had seen a volley blocked by the despairing lunge of a white shirt.
Having not played since December 7, it was perhaps of minimal surprise that the home side could not replicate the level of performance that earned them a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the tournament's group stages at the outset of November.
But Chelsea surely could not have expected it to be so easy in the first half as they pushed and probed with Petr Cech reduced to the role of eager spectator at the other end of the pitch.
All that was missing was a first goal for Fernando Torres in a Chelsea shirt, but it was not for want of trying.
Lampard picked out Torres on 27 minutes. The Spanish striker was crowded out as he prepared to pull the trigger while only a fine diving save by Wiland deprived Torres on the hour mark.
He worked tirelessly, but suffered more frustration on 75 minutes when Oscar Wendt dashed back to hook the ball off his line after a shot had evaded Wiland.
Anelka had no such problems. He now has 10 goals from 10 starts in the Champions League.
The return leg on March 16 at Stamford Bridge is surely a formality, but Chelsea can suddenly look forward to the visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on March 1 with some relish.
ITW PETR CECH