LONDON - Centre-back David Luiz was the
unlikely first scorer while Juan Mata added the second with the
last kick of the game as Chelsea began their Champions League
Group E campaign with a flattering 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen
at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
The curly-topped 24-year-old Brazilian Luiz curled the ball
around the German defence and into the far corner of the net
after a superb 67th minute build-up involving Ashley Cole and
Fernando Torres to put Chelsea on the road to a hard-fought
victory in a tough group opener.
Mata made it 2-0 in the third minute of stoppage-time.
A minute before Luiz scored, Leverkusen almost took the lead
when former Chelsea favourite Michael Ballack advanced on goal
with only Petr Cech to beat, but the Czech keeper blocked his
former team-mate's shot.
Both teams had the ball in the net inside the opening four
minutes, but both goals were disallowed by the officials.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, in charge of his first
Champions League match, left veterans John Terry and Frank
Lampard out of the starting line-up, and his gamble paid off as a
youthful looking Chelsea team picked up three valuable points.
Leverkusen thought they had taken the lead after three
minutes when Simon Rolfes headed home but French referee
Stephane Lannoy ruled Leverkusen's players guilty of pushing
from the free-kick that led to the disallowed effort.
Television replays failed to show any clear infringements
Less than a minute later Chelsea thought they had scored
when Torres flicked the ball into the net but Raul Mereiles, who
attempted to back-heel the ball home, was ruled offside and the
goal ruled out.
Torres, who had only scored once for Chelsea in 22 previous
matches since his record 50.0 million pounds move from Liverpool in January, worked tirelessly in attack
alongside the impressive Daniel Sturridge and went close to
scoring with an acrobatic overhead-kick in the first half which
went just over the bar.
Although he failed to score, he played an important part in
both goals and while his manager did not praise him individually
afterwards, he did praise his team's performance.
"It was a difficult game for us but it was a fair result
with Chelsea winning. There was excellent work from everybody,
an excellent effort, tremendous amount of workrate and
possession and shots on goal and I am very happy with
everybody," he told Sky Sports afterwards.
Leverkusen defended well, however, and created enough
chances of their own with Cech also forced into making good
saves from Lars Bender and Andre Schurrle in the second half.
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