Chelsea beats APOEL Nicosia 1-0 in Champs League
NICOSIA: Nicolas Anelka scored in the first half Wednesday as Chelsea rebounded from its first Premier League loss of the season with a scrappy 1-0 victory over APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League.
Anelka's goal came in the 18th minute when he one-timed a shot from Branislav Ivanovic's pass from the top of the box, curling the ball over outstretched APOEL goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis and into the top right corner of the net.
It was Chelsea's second straight 1-0 win in Group D, giving it a perfect six points after two games. FC Porto beat Atletico Mardid 2-0 in the other group game to sit second on three points, while APOEL and Atletico have a point each.
Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose team lost to Wigan Saturday to end its perfect start to the domestic season, said he was unhappy with his team's play and praised APOEL's gritty second-half performance.
"No I'm not satisfied, I want Chelsea to play better, to play with more control, courage," he said. "But at this point in the season, it's normal."
"APOEL played very well and they deserved a draw, but that's the way football is," he said. "This means that there is no easy game in the Champions League.
The Italian coach praised Anelka's performance, but said it will be a different Chelsea showing up for Sunday's crucial Premier league match against Liverpool.
"We will not play like today, we will play better for sure," he said.
Chelsea missed several half-chances in the first half including a 25-yard blast from Michael Essien in the ninth that sailed wide of Chiotis' right post. In the 21st, Ashley Cole's header from 10 yards out sailed just wide of the APOEL net.
Florent Malouda's long-range effort in the 28th was also off-target.
APOEL came out confident in the first half, trying to dictate the pace early in the game. But Anelka's goal deflated the team, and the hosts never really threatened the Chelsea goal in the first half.
Chelsea looked set to cruise to a comfortable win, but the momentum shifted in the second half when a more aggressive APOEL kept Chelsea on the backfoot, missing several good chances on goal.
"This leaves a bitter taste in our mouths," said APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic. "We are a little bit disappointed that we lost, because in the second half, we made a great effort."
Jovanovic said his team "wasted" the first half by allowing Chelsea to dominate, and were hampered by jitters over facing a world-class team in the Cypriots' first Champions League campaign.
APOEL's best chance to equalize came in the 65th when Savvas Poursaitides' low shot from 15 yards was saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.
APOEL again came close in the 84th when Constantinos Charalambides' diving header from five yards sailed just wide of the Chelsea net.
In the 70th, French referee Bertrand Layec ignored APOEL's appeals for a penalty, when a Chelsea defender appeared to handle a Kamil Kosowski cross in the box.
Chelsea's best chance in the second half came in the 76th when Florent Malouda connected onto Ivanovic's cross, but his low shot went straight into the arms of Chiotis.