Chelsea must keep pushing to reach last 16, says Ancelotti

Club must 'stay focused' despite strong position in Champions League group
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The Independent Football

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insists the Blues still have a lot to do to ensure they finish in first place in Group F of the Champions League despite a comfortable 2-0 victory over Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday night.

Chelsea went a little way to banishing the memories of their penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League final in the same stadium two years ago thanks to first-half goals from Russian Yuri Zhirkov and Nicolas Anelka.

Anelka scored his 50th for the club and fourth in three games in Europe this season two minutes before the break. But Chelsea were already a goal to the good thanks to a stunning 25-yard volley from left-back Zhirkov in the 23rd minute. It was the Russian international's first goal for the club since his £18m move last year.

The victory put Chelsea three points clear at the top of Group F and a win against Spartak in the return match at Stamford Bridge will guarantee they finish in first place.

However, Ancelotti chose to remain cautious. "We are not in the last 16 yet," he said. "We have to play three games and must do our best in those matches. We have to stay focused about the next game. We want to arrive in first place. That's our aim. We will have the possibility to do this. The Champions League is an important competition every time you play. For all the games."

Ancelotti was also full of praise for his goalscorers, who put the game beyond their opponents before the interval arrived. "We established good control in that first half, scoring two goals and then controlled it defensively in the second," added the Italian. "We played well at the back, above all Petr Cech, who made some fantastic saves.

"I don't think the players were thinking about the last defeat in this stadium. They were focused on this game. It was an important moment for Yuri, coming back to play for Chelsea in Russia. He scored a fantastic goal and will be very happy.

"He was very good. He doesn't have a problem playing either left-back or on the left of midfield. He scored a very important goal and opened up the game. After that, it was easier for us to win the match.

"Anelka showed his qualities and ability to play up front. He's comfortable playing up there when there's no Didier Drogba. He's a fantastic player and can play in all the positions across that front line."

The Spartak manager, Valery Karpin, admitted his side had been "frightened" of Chelsea and promised a different mentality in the return match in a fortnight. "We had two different halves," Karpin said. "I spoke to the players in the dressing room and realised my team were a bit scared of Chelsea in the first half.

"We only had the fighting spirit after half-time. It was not enough. We will focus on the rematch in London and produce good football there and get some points."

Anelka put his own Luzhniki Stadium pain behind him on Tuesday. His penalty miss in the Moscow stadium at the climax of the final against Manchester United cost the Blues the European crown.

The France international subsequently claimed that he knew he was going to miss the penalty because he had lost confidence under former coach Avram Grant.

"It is always good to win a game," Anelka said. "Especially away from home in the Champions League. We wanted to take three points and that is what we did. We have a big squad with good players and, even though we have a lot of players missing, we are capable of winning games. The best thing was not to think about what happened in the stadium before and to try to win the game. It was good for me but I was not thinking about what happened two years ago."