Flo's onslaught flattens Feyenoord

Chelsea emphatically shake off erratic Premiership form to enhance their European hopes
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Chelsea resumed their Champions' League campaign with a comfortable win against a team that will almost certainly prove to be Group D's softest touch. A goal by Celestine Babayaro two minutes before the interval and a second-half pair by Tore Andre Flo scarcely reflected the measure of Chelsea's superiority over the Dutch champions, who can thank their goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, for the fact that the score did not reach double figures.

Chelsea resumed their Champions' League campaign with a comfortable win against a team that will almost certainly prove to be Group D's softest touch. A goal by Celestine Babayaro two minutes before the interval and a second-half pair by Tore Andre Flo scarcely reflected the measure of Chelsea's superiority over the Dutch champions, who can thank their goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, for the fact that the score did not reach double figures.

So complete was Chelsea's command that in the final minutes they were able to withdraw Didier Deschamps and give a brief debut to Samuele Dalla Bona, a recent capture from Atalanta and the captain of Italy's Under-18 team. It was not the fault of Dalla Bona, a left-sided midfield player, that a moment's complacency in the home defence gave Julio Cruz the chance to pull a goal back in the 90th minute.

Feyenoord were the first Dutch winners of this competition, when they beat Celtic 2-1 in the 1970 final with a team that included the great midfielders Wim van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. But their visit did not appear to have stirred the emotions of the London public, to judge by the muted applause that greeted both teams. The welcome was more suited to an early round of the Worthington Cup.

The visitors' coach, Leo Beenhakker, is one of Europe's most experienced tacticians, but for all his experience with Ajax and Real Madrid he has yet to take a team to the final stages of the European Cup. The tactics behind his team's unbeaten record in the first phase of this season's competition became clear when they lined up with Jean-Paul van Gastel sweeping on both sides of the back four, and Somalia, their new Brazilian striker, left to forage for himself up front.

As the first half developed it became even more apparent that Beenhakker had prepared his men to withstand a siege.

Dan Petrescu made the first impression on the visitors' defence, using a clever dummy to beat Jan de Visser down the right in the fifth minute before sending over a cross which Gustavo Poyet glanced narrowly wide of the far post. Feyenoord answered a few seconds later when Bonaventure Kalou cut in from the right for a shot which Ed de Goey diverted at the expense of a corner.

Chelsea almost took the lead after 12 minutes when Marcel Desailly's flick to Gianfranco Zola's right-wing corner was met at the far post by Poyet's flying scissor-kick, which was blocked by Dudek. Feyenoord's Polish international goalkeeper was soon making an even more spectacular intervention, but a completely inadvertent one, when he stooped to gather Flo's harmless long-range ground shot, only for the ball to bounce off a divot and strike him in the forehead for an effective if mildly embarrassing clearance.

Dudek's legs were the next part of his anatomy to see action, as Dennis Wise's point-blank shot ricocheted to safety. Only Somalia's shot relieved the pressure, beaten down by De Goey after Desailly's mishit clearance had given the Brazilian a rare opportunity.

In the minutes before the interval Dudek held on to Flo's 20-yard dipper and tipped over a 25-yard rocket from Zola before he finally cracked, unable to find anything to put in the way of the emphatic far-post header with which Babayaro met Petrescu's deep cross from the right.

The first-half pattern of 14 corners to one and 18 shots to two in favour of Chelsea looked like being maintained when Chelsea won a further series of flag-kicks in the minutes after the interval, their pressure culminating in a free-kick on the edge of the area which Zola curled wide of the left-hand post.

Poyet, who emerged for the second half with his right eye blackened by an earlier collision, was again prominent in Chelsea's incessant attacks, but it was Petrescu who shook Dudek's crossbar with a header from Albert Ferrer's cross. And, when Dudek beat away Zola's shot, Petrescu was unable to manoeuvre himself into position to put away the inviting rebound.

Ten minutes into the second half Beenhakker tried to change his team's defensive approach by replacing two midfield men, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Peter van Vossen, with two attackers, Cruz of Argentina and Radoslav Samardzic of Yugoslavia. But the denuded Dutch midfield found it even harder to deny Chelsea opportunities, although the blue shirts were finding it hard to turn their possession into further goals.

Flo, clean through, allowed Bert Konterman to catch and dispossess him inside the area, and Dudek again distinguished himself with a flying punch that deflected Poyet's fierce 20-yard shot after Zola had cut the ball back from the right. But a marvellous move after 67 minutes enabled Chelsea to give the scoreline a more realistic appearance. Zola crossed from the left, Petrescu headed the ball back from beyond the far post, Babayaro crashed a header against the bar, and Flo hit the rebound home, despite the efforts of the brave Dudek, who managed to get an unavailing hand to his shot.

Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Babayaro; Petrescu, Wise, Deschamps (Dalla Bona, 87), Poyet (Di Matteo, 87); Flo, Zola. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Hogh, Goldbaek, Morris, Harley.

Feyenoord: (4-1-3-1): Dudek; Van Gobbel, Konterman, Van Wonderen, De Visser; Van Gastel; Kalou, Tomasson (Cruz, 57), Bosvelt, Van Vossen (Samardzic, 59); Somalia. Substitutes not used : Graafland (gk), Rasza, Paauwe, Korneev, De Haan.

Referee: J-M Garcia Aranda (Sp).

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