Chelsea 2 Werder Bremen 0: Mourinho leaps to Lampard's defence after Ballack brilliance

Click to follow

It should have been a familiar old English football story about brilliant German penalty-takers that ended happily for Chelsea, but last night Jose Mourinho even upstaged the occasion of Michael Ballack's first goal for his new club from the penalty spot. First Mourinho sacked Frank Lampard as penalty-taker, and then he blamed everyone else for diminishing his England man's confidence.

Another day, another Mourinho conspiracy theory. When Lampard pointedly handed the ball over to Ballack after Didier Drogba was bundled over in the area on 67 minutes the pair seemed to be disobeying their manager's wishes. Mourinho had previously insisted that Lampard, having missed three out of the last four penalties for Chelsea and England, was still his penalty-taker: the two players evidently knew better.

With that natural élan peculiar to his countrymen, Ballack thundered the ball into the top corner of Andreas Reinke's goal to double the lead Michael Essien had given Chelsea after 24 minutes. It was left to Mourinho to explain that he had told the players that "if the next penalty after a miss is crucial to the game then it is better another player take the responsibility". But he was not going to take the rap for another blow to Lampard.

"I think something is happening with the English press in relation to Frank Lampard," Mourinho said, "for me he [Lampard] is guilty." It was a tirade better suited to the commission hearings and transfer tribunals to which Chelsea find themselves regularly summoned and, in a week in which Ashley Cole has managed to refuse all responsibility for his own actions, it sounded eerily familiar.

"You don't know why he is guilty?" asked Mourinho rhetorically. "He is guilty because you have never had a player like him in 10 years so you are having a go. He is guilty because he scores so many goals, he is guilty because he plays so many matches, he is guilty because he plays 100 per cent in every game. He is guilty because he has an unbelievable record and he is a good player."

That we have had to wait until mid-September for the first Mourinho rant of the season is perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Before then he had already hinted darkly at the forces at work which had consigned Chelsea to a "strong group" which, by extension, Mourinho said meant more bookings for his team who picked up four last night.

The other big sides playing in the Champions' League had been much luckier, Mourinho argued, and to prove his point he read out the list - "Barcelona: no yellow cards, Bayern Munich: one yellow card" - and on and on. Another list of grievances.

The agenda against Lampard, the yellow card conspiracy and a midfield with four central players and no wingers: it is extraordinary how complicated Mourinho can make a routine home win in the early group stages of the Champions' League.

For Lampard, pushed nominally to the left, it must have felt like the days when Sven Goran Eriksson would send the most junior man out to England's left wing. Meanwhile, Ballack occupied the prime space behind the two strikers and with Essien on the right, Ashley Cole, on his first Chelsea start, had to give all the width down the left.

For the away supporters in a sparse crowd of 32,135, Ballack was the target of some unprintable chants which, even in German, left little to the imagination. He played like a man with a point to prove and despite one brazen dive was the pick of Chelsea's players.

On 24 minutes, Chelsea broke through. Lampard's through ball was deflected to the centre-half Petri Pasanen, who made a mess of trying to bring it under control as Chelsea's attacking line surrounded him. It was Essien who seized possession and hit a low shot past Reinke.

In the early part of the second half Chelsea wobbled in their pursuit of what would have been a decisive second goal and even Mourinho admitted Bremen were the better side then. Miroslav Klose went close twice with headers - the second struck the bar - before Joe Cole came on for his first action since a knee injury in pre-season.

Lampard was denied a penalty when Clemens Fritz clipped his shins - bad luck again - but Chelsea were immediately rewarded by the fickle Greek referee. The official, Kyros Vassaras, had already booked John Terry for a foul on Ivan Klasnic when the Chelsea captain scythed down the same player on the edge of the area and was extremely lucky not to be dismissed for a second offence.

It was Fritz who ran into the back of Drogba as the Chelsea striker pursued a ball from Ballack and Lampard made a point of personally handing the ball over to his German team-mate. Ballack did not disappoint. Reinke chose the right direction but he never got close to the rocket that was dispatched into the top left corner of his goal. If they keep going in like that, Lampard might not be taking any more Chelsea penalties for a while.

Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Boulahrouz, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole; Essien, Makelele, Ballack, Lampard; Shevchenko (J Cole, 81), Drogba (Kalou, 85). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Obi Mikel, Geremi, Bridge, Ferreira.

Werder Bremen (4-4-2): Reinke; Fritz, Pasanen, Naldo, Wome; Frings, Diego, Baumann (Zidan, 85), Borowski; Klasnic (Almeida, 66), Klose. Substitutes not used: Jensen (gk), Vranjes, Owomoyela, Andreasen, Schulz.

Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).