Late strikes give Chelsea score they expected


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The Independent Online

Chelsea achieved the sort of scoreline that might have been expected against last season's surprise Danish champions but hardly in the grand manner. It required three goals in the last 11 minutes of a pleasingly open match to see off spirited opposition in Nordsjaelland with their insistent possession game, occasionally let down by naive mistakes.

Without John Terry, Chelsea's defence allowed them some scope and scoring opportunities, but the three points were invaluable after being pegged back to 2-2 by Juventus in their opening game. The home supporters saw a fluctuating game in which their team looked like being overwhelmed early on, then recovered for a fine spell, only to fall behind as a result of their greatest fault, which was over-playing.

Enoch Adu was some ten yards outside his own penalty area when Fernando Torres brushed him off the ball. He had support from Frank Lampard, who immediately found Juan Mata for a smart finish.

As expected, Roberto di Matteo rested one of his new midfield trio in Eden Hazard as well as Jon Obi Mikel and John Terry. That meant Lampard taking the captaincy and one of the defensive midfield berths while Victor Moses was given a deserved first start.

Fernando Torres, meanwhile, maintained his record as the only outfield player to have started every game this season. With Daniel Sturridge injured, there was no option, as was made clear by a substitutes' bench devoid of any other striker.

In the opening ten minutes alone, Oscar drove narrowly wide, Moses headed against a post while clashing heads with defender Jores Okore, and Lampard showed that he can still race into the penalty area as of old, hitting Mata's pass just too high. The home side kept their composure and kept passing, however, and it took a fine blocking tackle by Ashley Cole to prevent Kasper Lorentzen sweeping home a cross.

After scoring once, Chelsea threatened to do so again, mainly through Torres, who was twice denied by the goalkeeper and then, rightly, by a flag for offside. Early in the second half Moses also put the ball past Jesper Hansen from a Torres pass but had fouled Michael Parkhurst.

The holders needed a second goal, as was emphasised when Joshua John came inside Ramires and put a low shot just wide, Mikkel Beckmann headed Okore's long cross onto the roof of the net and the captain Nicolai Stokholm forced Petr Cech to a low save. Then Cech had to push John's shot onto a post and Cole blocked the follow-up from Beckmann.

Di Matteo had sent on Hazard for the disappointing Moses but it was a counter-attack that led to the second goal. Torres was fouled 20 yards out and Luiz hit a free-kick that Cristiano Ronaldo would have admired, dipping over the wall on its way in.

That was in the 79th minute and it was harsh on the home side to concede two more, well worked as the goals were by Mata and Ramires.