To the relief of both Chelsea and, one suspects, Uefa, Abramovich (UK) defeated Abramovich (Russia) at Stamford Bridge last night despite the team owned by Roman Abramovich being largely outplayed by the one he sponsors.
The result might be thought inevitable given that Abramovich has ploughed £200m into Chelsea, and just £30m, though Sibneft, the oil company of which he is a majority shareholder, into CSKA Moscow. The scorers however, on a night when Chelsea found the finishing touch which has eluded them in the Premiership, both pre-dated the Russian's arrival. John Terry, who scored Chelsea's opening goal after eight minutes, did not even cost a rouble having arrived at the club as a youth team player. Eidur Gudjonsen, who doubled the lead in first half injury-time, preceded even Claudio Ranieri having been signed in 2000 by Gianluca Vialli.
One signing from the era of Abramovich was significant. Peter Cech, the £7m goalkeeper, had an outstanding match making several impressive saves and showing secure handling in wet conditions. He, as much as anyone, is responsible for Chelsea this morning having a foot in the knock-out stages.
CSKA invested £7m of Abramovich's sponsorship on the Brazilian striker Vagner "Love" Silva de Souza - the "Love" nickname came in his Palmeiras days after some unconventional pre-match preparation. He quickly showed why he is now making a name for his football ability turning Terry so sharply he left the Chelsea captain on the deck. But Terry is not easily dismissed and, though prone, he bravely stuck out his head to block Love's shot.
Seven minutes later Terry again used his brow to good effect. After teenage goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had come rashly and unsuccessfully from his line Eidur Gudjohnsen was able to head Frank Lampard's corner back across the box for Terry to turn in. It was his third goal in as many Champions' League games, all from headers at set-pieces.
Chelsea had lined up largely as expected, the one surprise being that the only Carvalho on the pitch was CSKA's Brazilian midfielder Daniel, Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho having been supplanted by William Gallas. The visiting Carvalho lasted only 25 minutes before limping off but, underlining CSKA's panache, had twice worried Cech in that time.
Although midfielder Frank Lampard - and Terry twice - both threatened to extend the home team's lead, their goalkeeper was fast becoming Chelsea's key player. After 32 minutes he went full length to turn away Sergey Ignashevich's tapped free-kick and four minutes from the half-time break made a superlative save after a corner was deflected goalwards from the hip of Gudjohnsen.
Thes visitors' chances reflected the balance of play, the former Red Army side advancing constantly. Cruelly, in first-half injury-time, Chelsea scored again. The goal came from another set-piece, a Damien Duff free-kick. This time Akinfeev stayed on his line allowing Gudjohnsen to elude his man and head past him.
Despite their lead, Chelsea's new formation was not an obvious success and Joe Cole soon replaced Duff. The game continued to quietly meander and the crowd either drifted away or, to judge form the silence, drifted off to sleep. Then, with seven minutes left, they sparked into life to give Scott Parker a rousing reception. It was his first appearance since the opening day of the season but he had little time to make a case for a more substantial role in the squad.
Sadly for the Englishman Mourinho has midfielders to spare. Were he a striker, Parker would be set for an extended run while Chelsea wait for Didier Drogba to recover fitness, not that Mourinho has excessive reason to be concerned about Chelsea's prospects in this Champions' League campaign. Even without Drogba they should secure a place in the next stage when they next take the field in Moscow on 2 November.
Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Cech; Bridge, Terry, Gallas, P Ferreira; Lampard, Duff (Cole, 76), Smertin (Parker, 83), Makelele; Kezman (Tiago, 62), Gudjohnsen. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Johnson, R Carvalho, Geremi.
CSKA Moscow (3-2-3-2): Akinfeev; Ignashevich, Semberas Berezoutski; Aldonin Rahimic; Odiah, D Carvalho (Laizans, 25); Zhirkov; Silva de Souza (Dadu, 59), Semak (Krasic, 71). Substitutes not used: Mandrikin (gk), O Ferreira, Kirichenko, Shershun.
Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).Reuse content