Anelka sparkles as Chelsea put on flair show

Chelsea 3 Fulham 1: French striker inspires Hiddink's men to throw off their shackles and send warning to Barcelona

Chelsea, accused of kicking Barcelona off the park in midweek, produced the kind of football that might have impressed even the most devout of Catalan purists.

Guus Hiddink's side have been castigated for their stonewall defence in the 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final in the Nou Camp on Tuesday night. But given licence to spread their wings against neighbours Fulham, Chelsea at times were a joy to witness.

There was even a piece of history for the club – strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka scored in the same game for the first time. Many have said they cannot play together, but they combined brilliantly here to suggest Barcelona will have their hands full if they can repeat the trick in Wednesday's second leg.

Hiddink said: "If you have to play them as a central defender, you are worried because they are both so strong and fast. This certainly gives us options. We had a good result but I don't want to shut my eyes from the moments in the game when we were sloppy and made mistakes."

Fulham were in many respects the ideal sparring partners for Chelsea before Wednesday's clash. Roy Hodgson's side are top of the fair play league and there was hardly a bad tackle all afternoon. This has to be the blandest local derby in football, not exactly the El Classico clash with Real Madrid that faced Barcelona last night.

Hiddink has the utmost respect for Fulham's manager Hodgson, and showed it by selecting a powerful side, including John Terry, who was making his 400th appearance for the club.

Chelsea's leading lights made their presence felt with startling speed. In the first minute of the match they had the Fulham defence in a whirl of confusion with a superb one-touch move. Freed of the shackles worn so doggedly at the Nou Camp in midweek, Anelka, Florent Malouda and Drogba combined instinctively and Anelka applied the finish for his 22nd goal of the season.

But while the attack was free-flowing, Chelsea forgot the basics of defending, and a mistake by Alex after four minutes was punished by Fulham. The excellent Danny Murphy passed to Erik Nevland, who was played onside by Chelsea's dozing Brazilian, and the Norwegian powered a low shot through the fingers of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Sadly for Fulham Nevland soon had to leave the game, after a crunching challenge by Terry. His replacement Diomansy Kamara was virtually anonymous.

The Fulham goal was merely a blip for Chelsea. Their front three, showing the invention and flair missing in midweek, created Chelsea's second after 10 minutes. Drogba passed to Anelka and the Frenchman centred for his countryman Malouda to apply an extravagant finish.

Drogba had a goal ruled out by a narrow offside decision, and Lampard twice went close with shots from distance as Chelsea continued to flex their muscles.

Anelka was irresistible. Left out of the side that started in Barcelona, he seized his opportunity in impressive style. The much-travelled striker created Chelsea's third goal eight minutes after the interval, with a beautifully weighted pass to Drogba, who jinked past Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer to score.

Attendance: 41,801

Referee: Alan Wiley

Man of the match: Anelka

Match rating: 8/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor