Anelka pops up to pick Porto's pocket

Porto 0 Chelsea 1

A pattern is starting to develop in Europe, one that gives credibility to the idea that Carlo Ancelotti is the man to deliver the coveted Champions League trophy to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The game plan is pretty simple: keep it tight and then Nicolas Anelka poaches the winner. The blueprint worked last night here, as it has done in three out of five European matches this season, and it ensures Chelsea will finish top of Group D and will be one of the seeded clubs when the competition goes to a knockout format.

Anelka's goal, a close-range header after 69 minutes, was his first in eight games. The Frenchman has become Chelsea's pickpocket, the man who can steal a goal to win a close contest. It could be a priceless knack if Anelka can keep doing it all the way to the final in Madrid in May.

Ancelotti's Chelsea side are proving to be a very different proposition in Europe than the side that has taken the Premier League by storm. In the domestic game they have blossomed into a free-scoring team that play with a real flourish.

In the Champions League however they have become far more cautious, one that is content to keep its shape, bide its time and take whatever the chance when it comes, like Anelka's simple finish that decided this match. This is Continental Chelsea, when goal-mouth excitement is at a premium. The key is not to lose.

The goal was pretty much Chelsea's one and only real chance to score. Their only other opportunity was a long-range effort from Anelka, again, that reserve keeper Beto kept out with a flapping arm.

The Italian instincts of their manager, who led Milan to the Champions League title twice, come to the fore whenever Chelsea face European opposition. Ancelotti had asked for "courage and personality" from the team on the eve of the match and said: "I didn't see it for the whole game but there was personality and courage in the team. If we want to win the Champions League and to arrive in the final then those are qualities we need."

With Sunday's visit to Arsenal at the back of his mind, Ancelotti made six changes from the side that beat Wolves 4-0 last Saturday. He recalled Didier Drogba for the first time since the Ivorian bruised a rib during the 1-0 victory over Manchester United earlier this month.

Yuri Zhirkov, the man signed for £18m in the summer, was also given a rare outing, playing at left-back and had a part to play in the goal. His pass released the dashing Florent Malouda and the Frenchman crossed for compatriot Anelka to score with his head.

Not that Chelsea managed to keep Porto at arm's length for the whole game. In fact Chelsea looked horribly out of sorts in the first half. Petr Cech fumbled a long range effort from the inventive Fernando Belluschi but redeemed himself with a point-blank save to deny Falcao. The Argentine midfielder Belluschi, the best player on show last night, also rocked the Chelsea crossbar with a stinging drive from 25 yards.

Lampard saddles up to take on Arsenal after placenta healer trip

Frank Lampard is set to play for Chelsea against Arsenal on Sunday, after seeing the horse placenta healer Marijana Kovacevic for treatment on his torn thigh muscle.

Lampard remained at Chelsea's Cobham training ground while his team-mates were in Porto for their Champions League tie and the Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, said: "He will train with the team on Thursday. We hope he'll be fit for Sunday."

Lampard tore a thigh muscle two weeks ago before England's friendly against Brazil in Qatar. Last weekend he flew to Belgrade to visit Kovacevic who uses fluids derived from horse placenta in internal and external processes to speed up the healing process.

Chelsea claimed the player would be out of action for two weeks, although privately it was feared it would be six. The news that Lampard may face Arsenal gives them a huge lift before a game that could put Ancelotti's side 11 points ahead of their London rivals. Didier Drogba also returned after a rib injury last night. Ancelotti said: "The players are in good condition and form and we know that Sunday will be a very difficult match but we also know that we are in a very good moment to play Arsenal."

Mark Fleming

Porto (4-1-4-1): Beto; Sapunaru (Farias, 80), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Pereira; Fernando; Varela (Hulk, 59), Belluschi (Guarin, 71), Raul Meireles, Rodriguez; Falcao. Substitutes not used: Nuno (gk), Valeri, Maicon, Costa.

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry, Zhirkov; Mikel; Ballack (Essien, 68), Malouda; Deco (J Cole, 76); Anelka, Drogba. Substitutes not used:Turnbull (gk), A Cole, Kalou, Alex, Belletti.

Referee: J Eriksson (Sweden).

Group D

Results so far: Chelsea 1 Porto 0, Atletico Madrid 0 Apoel Nicosia 0; Porto 2 Atletico Madrid 0, Apoel Nicosia 0 Chelsea 1; Porto 2 Apoel Nicosia 1, Chelsea 4 Atletico Madrid 0; Apoel Nicosia 0 Porto 1, Atletico Madrid 2 Chelsea 2; Apoel Nicosia 1 Atletico Madrid 1, Porto 0 Chelsea 1.

Remaining fixtures: Tue 8 Dec: Atletico Madrd v Porto, Chelsea v Apoel Nicosia.

Apoel Nicosia 1 Atletico Madrid 1 With the qualification spots already decided, Apoel and Atletico were left to fight for third and a Europa League spot. Nenad Mirosavljevic volleyed home in the fifth minute for the home side but Simao Sabrosa's 62nd-minute equaliser then rescued a point for Enrique Flores' side, who reclaimed third spot ahead of next month's game against Porto.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss