Blues go one better than Bayer
Written By: Robert Halter
The visit of German side Bayer Leverkusen to Stamford Bridge brought back a Chelsea favourite Michael Ballack, who spent four seasons at the Blues before returning to Leverkusen in 2010. Group stage match day one in the UEFA Champions League was Bayer’s first time back in the tournament for six years while Chelsea commenced their fifteenth season in European competition having made the Champions League on nine occasions. The Blues were up and running at the start when Fernando Torres picked up a ball from Daniel Sturridge to send a bicycle kick narrowly over the upright. Bayer’s Simon Rolfes then had a goal ruled out for an infringement on John Obi Mikel and in the third minute Raul Meireles back heeled the ball into the net but the Blues had it given offside. A long ball forward by Branislav Ivanovic on seventeen minutes was poorly punched clear from Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno but Florent Malouda was unable to seize the opportunity as his header missed the target. Two minutes later, Malouda turned provider when Torres was set up but his header was shy of the goal. On thirty one minutes, Leno pulled off a save at full stretch to keep out Sturridge’s fiercely struck long range effort which the goalkeeper saved low down at his near post. Leno carried out further duties four minutes later after scrambling away Jose Bosingwa’s effort to safety. Sturridge threatened again on forty two minutes but pulled his shot away from the angle of the crossbar. On fifty six minutes, Malouda’s ball over was met by a well timed header by Torres but Leno carved the ball away. Bayer’s best chance of the match fell to Ballack, who was clean through but a solid stop by Cech denied the goal scoring opportunity. Moments later, Leverkusen pressed again as Andre Schurrle failed with a connection as Cech made a comfortable save. On sixty three minutes, Sturridge went close for the Blues as Leno deflected his effort from a few yards out, onto the right post and behind for a corner. David Luiz broke the deadlock on sixty seven minutes with a clinical low drive from out the box which found its way into the bottom right corner, after Torres had laid the ball off for Luiz to finish the move and give Chelsea the lead. A curling shot by Juan Mata fell into the reach of Leno and then the Spaniard struck again when his effort was tipped over one handed by Leno, soon after. A foul ruled out an Anelka goal on eighty minutes but deep into stoppage time Chelsea struck again as Torres was provider once more when he squared a pass to Mata, who slid it past Leno into the right side of the net to cap off a 2-0 win for the Blues over their German opponents.