Chelsea 4 Portsmouth 0: Scolari wants style as well as substance
Sunday 17 August 2008
Luiz Felipe Scolari got his Chelsea reign up and running with victory over Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge and a message of attacking intent to the rest of the Barclays Premier League.
Chelsea were criticised for being cautious under Jose Mourinho but Scolari's first match in charge suggested he wants style as well as substance, and they continued to push forward once Joe Cole opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
Nicolas Anelka, Scolari's only senior forward available, headed in his first goal at home for Chelsea before Frank Lampard put the result beyond doubt just before the break, scoring a penalty just five days after sealing his new five-year contract at the club.
Deco, on his debut, added a fourth from long range just before the end.
While Lampard may have been in the headlines this week it was Scolari - wearing a blue club tracksuit - who took centre stage on the opening weekend of the new season.
The Brazilian had promised a samba style to his time in west London, and he did not disappoint after being introduced to the crowd and giving them a thumbs-up.
Like his Brazil team that won the 2002 World Cup, he relied on his full-backs to create width - instead of Cafu and Roberto Carlos he has Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole marauding forward.
It allowed his five-man midfield to dominate through the middle, which is where the opener was created from less than a quarter of an hour into Scolari's career in England.
Anelka cushioned a header back to Michael Ballack, who lifted the ball over Pompey's defence with the outside of his boot for midfielder Cole to steer his finish around David James.
It could have got worse for the visitors as Lampard split their defence again, only this time James saved with his feet when Anelka ran through.
The France striker was not made to wait long for his goal. Bosingwa helped set it up by getting to the byline and standing up a cross to the far post.
Ballack almost got in the way as Deco met the ball but the Portugal midfielder managed to clip over James and Anelka beat Sylvain Distin on the line to head into the empty net.
Anelka should have added a third on the half-hour mark when he raced through again, but his effort went just wide of the post after he tapped the ball around James.
It did not run entirely smoothly for Scolari as he was forced into a change when Ballack picked up a knock, with Florent Malouda coming on.
Pompey also suggested they were willing to fight back when Petr Cech was forced into a double save before the break, first from Niko Kranjcar's powerful drive, then bravely with his body when Peter Crouch latched onto the rebound.
However, their hopes ended when Chelsea were awarded a penalty in first-half stoppage-time after Distin handled a cross by midfielder Cole.
James was booked for kicking the ball away before Lampard tucked away the spot-kick and tapped his badge in celebration as he ran to the crowd.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp, Lampard's uncle, had offered his advice before Lampard committed his future to Chelsea - and there was an inevitability that the midfielder would find the net against his relative.
The attacking continued after the break, with Anelka twice firing over the crossbar after the restart.
Midfielder Cole went sent through over the top again but fired wide of the post after outpacing the Pompey defence.
Pompey, in contrast, looked short on belief and were contributing to their own downfall, one free-kick in their own territory resulting in possession lost and a chance being presented to Anelka.
Younes Kaboul thought he had sight of goal from a corner but his effort came off his knee, and Crouch could not tame the ball when it fell to him.
Pompey also had a penalty appeal when Niko Kranjcar's drive was blocked by Ricardo Carvalho.
Crouch's partnership with Jermain Defoe clearly needs time to gel. It took them 78 minutes to combine, and Defoe could not get direction on his finish when he met a flick-on.
Deco's goal came in the 89th minute, a powerful and swerving effort from 30 yards that James could only parry into the top corner.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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