Chelsea find little to show for £32m

Burnley 1 Chelsea 2
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The Independent Online

Having seen more than £32m shelled out to bolster their side's Champions' League ambitions, Stamford Bridge regulars may be forgiven for a rumbling of discontent. Granted, it is some way to the main event, but this was a modest performance which garnered a fortuitous victory. It hardly suggests an instant return on the investment.

At the back, in particular, Chelsea looked all at sea, though there were mitigating circumstances. Emmanuel Petit, brought back to the capital from Barcelona for £7.5m, was employed not in his favoured midfield position but as a central defender partnering another new boy, William Gallas, for whom Claudio Ranieri paid Marseilles £6.2m.

That they were relative strangers, however, does not excuse their first-half slackness which enabled Burnley's forward line almost unfettered access to the target, and their vulnerability to pace and crosses. The full-backs, Mario Melchiot and Jon Harley, were equally culpable and Glen Little, on the Burnley right, found it too easy to deliver disconcerting crosses.

Little signalled his intent early on, flighting a ball which Gareth Taylor, signed permanently after last season's loan spell from Manchester City, headed into the side-netting. Gallas and Melchiot were left arguing over responsibility for the clearance.

Within five minutes, Little again skipped behind Harley and this time Melchiot headed into his own net, though the goal was disallowed for a foul. The next Burnley attack reaped a deserved reward and again Little was the architect, his cross being hoofed by Gallas into Moore's path. The finish was a formality.

With the ball at their feet, Chelsea looked solid enough and, though there was a distinct lack of either invention or flair, the ball was largely well used in midfield. Mario Stanic, on the right, worked effectively with Frank Lampard, an £11m purchase from West Ham, as his main supplier. However, sturdy work by Burnley's defence kept at bay the threat of a frustrated Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who was substituted at the request of the referee early in the second half after previously being warned for his reaction to a foul. Stanic, Chelsea's best performer, gave a more level-headed performance and was first to pounce on Steve Davis's weak attempt to head to his keeper.

A wholly new challenge faced the Premiership side after nine minutes of the second half when Stan Ternent, the Burnley manager, substituted his entire team. Against the second-string, the visitors found more cohesion to their play and Lampard converted from the spot after being impeded in the box.

Colin Hutchinson, Chel-sea's managing director, said the £7.5m signing of Boude-wijn Zenden from Barcelona this week almost certainly marked the end of the spending spree. Ranieri, no doubt, will be hoping the Dutch winger will add the verve so absent at Turf Moor yesterday.

Burnley 1

Moore 15

Chelsea 2

Stanic 36, Lampard pen 65

Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 8,971

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