Malouda completes Chelsea comeback

Chelsea 2 MSK Zilina 1

Chelsea fought back against MSK Zilina to preserve their 100 per cent record in the Champions League and ease the pressure on under-fire boss Carlo Ancelotti thanks to second-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda.

Ancelotti's side had trailed to Babatounde Bello's shock 19th-minute opener for the Group F minnows but Sturridge levelled six minutes after the break.

Malouda then grabbed a vital winner for the Barclays Premier League champions when he slotted home at the far post four minutes from time to ensure Chelsea finish in top spot.

Zilina, battered by Marseille in their last Champions League outing, had arrived with an attacking mentality that gave Chelsea's youthful side something to worry about in the early stages.

Chelsea first threatened the visitors in the 17th minute when Gael Kakuta sent over a cross that almost dropped into the net at the far post.

But Chelsea hit trouble in the 19th minute when Bello sliced his way through the home defence and coolly slotted the ball home.

It was another shock to the Blues who have been left reeling in recent weeks by events both on and off the pitch.

The shock and abrupt departure of Ray Wilkins arrived in the middle of a domestic slump that has seen them lose three out of their last four Premier League games.

Ancelotti, who rejected rumours he was set to quit the Blues over the weekend, cut a lonely figure in contrast to the delirious Zilina bench.

Chelsea fought back when Kakuta put Sturridge in behind the defence but the former Manchester City striker saw his shot slash wide of the near post.

But Zilina almost added a second on the half-hour when Tomas Majtan got clear to test Ross Turnbull at the near post. The Chelsea keeper was lucky to claw the ball away from danger as Zilina continued to threaten.

Seconds later Sturridge forced Martin Dubravka into a fine save when he sent a 20-yard angled drive towards the top corner.

Malouda should have levelled the scores in the 35th minute but he sent a tame header into the arms of Dubravka from six yards.

Malouda then tried his luck from 25 yards but he failed to find the target.

Sturridge wasted another chance in the 39th minute when he somehow sent a six-yard shot over the bar, although Chelsea were at least beginning to exert some pressure.

Chelsea replaced Kakuta with Salomon Kalou at half-time and the Ivory Coast striker sent a shot just over the bar from 20 yards straight from the re-start.

Chelsea equalised in the 51st minute when Kalou's cross eluded everyone in the six-yard box apart from Sturridge at the far post, the striker slipping the ball through the legs of the Zilina keeper to make it 1-1.

Chelsea were now in the ascendancy and Ramires sent a 25-yard drive just past the post as the Blues increased the tempo.

Didier Drogba almost put Chelsea in front on the hour but his free-kick was tipped onto the crossbar by Dubravka and Branislav Ivanovic headed over from close range when the ball was played back into the area.

Chelsea were now dominating and pushed on in search of the winner.

In the 69th minute Sturridge curled a low shot around the post after Chelsea has superbly carved open the Zilina defence.

Patrick Van Aanholt was denied by the woodwork in the 71st minute when his thunderous 20-yard drive cannoned back off the left-hand upright.

Midfielder Josh McEachran, who had been sublime all night with a range of delightful passes, put Drogba clear in the 75th minute but the striker fired high over the bar.

But Chelsea ensured they maintained their 100 per cent record in Europe when Malouda slotted home at the far post after Drogba had headed substitute Nicolas Anelka's cross into his path.

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.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence