Nicolas Anelka scored twice for Chelsea to help the English champions breeze past MSK Zilina 4-1 on Wednesday in their Champions League opener.
Michael Essien opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a low shot after an Anelka pass from the left wing.
In the 24th minute, Anelka beat Zilina keeper Martin Dubravka with a low shot across the box after Florent Malouda had chipped the ball superbly over the MSK defence.
Anelka silenced the home crowd four minutes later, making it 3-0 with an easy rebound after Chelsea captain John Terry had hit the crossbar with a powerful header from a Malouda corner.
Malouda then almost made it 4-0 but his shot from 10 metres out, which was heading for an empty net, was deflected wide by Zilina skipper Mario Pecalka.
Zilina, making their debut in the tournament, created few scoring chances throughout the game.
A long-range shot from their Bosnian midfielder Admir Vladavic was saved by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech shortly before half-time and Babatounde Bello then headed wide.
Daniel Sturridge scored a fourth for Chelsea in the 48th minute from a break, beating Dubravka and Pecalka after a neat pass from Yossi Benayoun.
“The first half was fantastic,” said Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti. “We played very well on the counter-attack. We had a lot of chances. It was a fantastic performance.
“The second half was different. We had a good control of the game. We are doing very well. We are in a good moment. We started well in the Premier League and in the Champions League – everything is okay now.”
The key to wining the game was Anelka, according to Ancelotti.
“He played a fantastic game, opened the space, created opportunities, scored two goals and set up Essien for the first goal.
“He can play in any position up front. Sometimes we use him out wide, sometimes he plays in the middle. Tonight he showed the same skills as when he plays wide.”
Zilina pushed for a consolation goal as the game progressed, with Vladavic missing narrowly from 16 metres in the 49th minute.
Their effort was rewarded 55 minutes into the game.
Tomas Oravec scored after Branislav Ivanovic and Cech got into a terrible tangle.
“I lost a cross in the floodlights, but I don’t want to make excuses. It was my fault,” Cech said.
Oravec added: “Chelsea capitalised on all their chances at the beginning and then it was tough to play against a team like that… it was naive to think we could equal them.”
Chelsea took their foot off the gas and coach Carlo Ancelotti could afford to send on youngsters Josh McEachran, Gael Kakuta and Patrick Van Aanholt for a rare taste of European action.
“We have an important squad. We want at this moment to use all the players,” said Ancelotti who was without the suspended Didier Drogba, the injured Frank Lampard and the rested Ashley Cole.
“Chelsea showed their strength, we just couldn’t keep pace with them,” said Zilina’s Czech coach Pavel Hapal.
“It’a pity we couldn’t score one more. The result is a lesson for us, but I’m not disappointed.”
In the next round of Group F matches on September 28, Chelsea will welcome Marseille, who lost to Spartak Moscow 1-0 on Wednesday with a late own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta.
Zilina go to Moscow on the same day.
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