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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chelsea Scrape Home Against QPR - Compilation of Match Reports and Managerial Comments

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QPR Official Site - Chelsea 1 QPR 0

Rangers bowed out of the Carling Cup with their heads held high, going down to a solitary Salomon Kalou effort at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast international notched the only goal of the tie early in the second half, on a night where the R's more than matched the Premier League table-toppers.

Akos Buzsaky had the visitors' best chance, though Rangers - for all their efforts - could not quite find a way past Carlo Ancelotti's side, who ended the tie with nine full internationals on the pitch.

Indeed, Ancelotti paid the Hoops the ultimate compliment during the second half, introducing England trio Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry.

Despite the result, it was the 6,000 Rangers fans who could be heard loudest at the final whistle, cheering the R's every move and showing their appreciation for what was another impressive performance.

Jim Magilton made two changes to his starting XI for the West London showdown.

Tom Heaton started in goal, while Alejandro Faurlin replaced the Cup tied Ben Watson in the only outfield alteration from the side that coasted to a 2-0 victory against Cardiff City on Saturday.

The back four remained unchanged, with Gary Borrowdale and Mikele Leigertwood occupying the full-back berths, alongside Damion Stewart and Kaspars Gorkss.

Skipper Martin Rowlands partnered Faurlin in the middle of the park, with Wayne Routledge and Buzsaky out wide.

In attack, in-form Jay Simpson was joined by Rowan Vine.

Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti opted for a mixture of youth and experience for the visit of the R's.

England international Joe Cole started his first match in almost nine months following a cruciate knee ligament injury, lining up alongside summer signing Yury Zhirkov, Nigerian Jon Obi Mikel and Florent Malouda.

Up front, Kalou led the line alongside Fabio Borini, whilst Henrique Hilario lined up in goal.

The Blues' back four included international duo Branislav Ivanovic and Paolo Ferreira, as well as Champions League winner Juliano Belletti.

As the tie got underway in front of a vocal 6,000-strong R's away following, it was in fact the hosts who had the game's first opportunity.

After Malouda made a driving run into the box from the left, his low shot was well held by Heaton.

But though it may have been Chelsea who had the first effort to note, the R's were far from being overrun in the opening exchanges.

However, moments later, Kalou broke down the right before sending a rasping drive in at Heaton, but again the Manchester United loanee was equal to his effort, despite the rainfall making conditions difficult for the keepers' in SW6.

Play soon switched to the other end though, and Rangers missed a great opportunity to open the scoring.

Simpson found time and space, but he flashed his effort over the bar after a Routledge cross caused confusion in the Blues ranks.

Soon after, Chelsea had what was their best opening to date, and after Zhirkov's teasing cross found Borini, the young Blues striker headed just wide.

Anyone who thought Rangers would travel to Stamford Bridge to defend were so far being proved totally wrong.

The R's soon broke at pace and after a fantastic, driving run from Routledge - similar to that which created the R's second goal at the weekend away at Cardiff City - he squared the ball to Buzsaky on the edge of the box.

The Hungarian midfielder had space before shifting to his left and sending in an effort towards the top right-hand corner, which faded just wide of Hilario's left hand upright.

The R's were growing in confidence and moments later, after fine play between Rowlands and Routledge, the latter squared for Faurlin, but he shot straight at the goalkeeper from outside the box.

Just before the interval, after good work from Vine, Leigertwood sent in an effort from fully 30-yards out, but that effort went just wide of the target, as the teams went in level at the break.

Chelsea Manager Ancelotti paid Rangers a huge compliment for their fine opening half showing as the teams came back out for the second period, with Lampard replacing Malouda.

But that wasn't to deter the R's and only a few minutes in, Hilario cleared well from Routledge after a cutting pass from Vine had the Chelsea backline beaten.

However, when play soon switched to the other end, Chelsea were a goal to the good.

Inevitably it was Lampard who played provider, sending an enticing through ball to Kalou, who appeared to be in an offside position.

With the assistant referee giving the Ivory Coast international the benefit of the doubt, he cut back inside on his right foot and buried low drive in off the foot of the post.

Undeterred, Rangers responded in a positive fashion.

Backed by the partisan away faithful, the R's fashioned a series of corners, one of which Hilario fumbled after pressure from Stewart.

However, the R's were always vulnerable to a Chelsea counter attack, and when Borini broke at pace, Heaton was down low to his right to divert away the danger.

It was becoming an end-to-end tie, and Buzsaky nearly caught Hilario off guard when he fizzed in a shot from fully 35-yards out. Though the Blues 'keeper, to be fair, got down well to parry the effort to safety.

Rangers were desperate to get a goal that would level matters and mindful of that, R's gaffer Magilton introduced Adel Taarabt for Vine, before a few minutes later Hogan Ephraim and Alessandro Pellicori replaced Rowlands and Simpson respectively.

But it was Heaton who was forced into the next save, expertly denying the roaming Joe Cole from close range.

Rangers - to their credit - continued to throw numbers forward in search of an equaliser, yet despite three minutes of added time, it proved beyond them.

Chelsea: Hilario, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Hutchinson (Terry 77), Zhirkov (A Cole 69), Mikel, Belletti, Malouda (Lampard 46), J Cole, Kalou, Borini.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Essien, Matic, Bruma.
Goals: Kalou (53)
QPR: Heaton, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Vine (Taarabt 66), Buzsaky, Gorkss, Rowlands (Ephraim 74), Faurlin, Simpson (Pellicori 74), Borrowdale.
Subs not used: Cerny, Ramage, Mahon, Agyemang.
Referee: Mr M Jones Attendance: 37, 781


Jim Magilton was proud of his players, despite seeing his Rangers side bow out of the Carling Cup against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In an end-to-end encounter, the R's went down to a second half strike from Solomon Kalou. However, the R's boss remained positive and told www.qpr.co.uk: "I'm immensely proud.

"We pushed them really close tonight and the lads can leave here with their heads held high.

"It's another step in the right direction for us.

"I feel we had opportunities to really ask them more questions that we did at times. We lacked a little bit of belief in the final third, but we're making great strides and long may that continue."

Over 5,900 R's fans made the short trip to Stamford Bridge and Magilton added: "That was first class support tonight - great fanaticism.

"They were first class from start to finish and I can' wait to get back to Loftus Road on Saturday to hear them cheer us on again."

Magilton continued: "We knew we'd be starved of possession, but overall that's two good away performances in a row now.

"I certainly felt we could get after Chelsea - we were very positive after Saturday at Cardiff. I felt that they'd all earned the right to play, so they did.

"I want to try and stamp my authority on the dressing room - and I think I can. They're an honest bunch of players who have a lot of quality.

"If we can maintain consistency, we can be as good as anyone else in the division - we proved we're a very, very good side tonight." QPR


As in the FA Cup meeting between the clubs in January 2008, a single goal was enough for a narrow but deserved Chelsea win.

The deciding moment came just after the break and it was scored by Salomon Kalou, a precise finish after he had been set on his way by Joe Cole.

The second-half was the brighter of the two, and contained the best chances with QPR keeper Tom Heaton denying the Blues with a couple of good stops.

As in their previous visit to the Bridge, Rangers, though quite solid, showed limited ability to pressure our goal.

The Chelsea pre-match promise to select players returning from injury plus some Academy products was upheld in a starting line-up containing three full debutants.

In defence was 20-year-old Sam Hutchinson in the centre and Yury Zhirkov at left-back. Paulo Ferreira returned on the right.

The midfield was packed full of first team experience, Cole playing his first match since January at the front of the diamond.

Up front, 18-year-old Fabio Borini (pictured below) continued on from his sub appearance against Spurs with a starting position alongside Salomon Kalou.

As well as two more potential debutants, Nemanja Matic and Jeffrey Bruma, on the bench (ultimately unused), the big guns of JT, Lamps, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien were ready if needed.

It took 95 seconds for Chelsea to register the first shot on target, Malouda striking into the keeper's midriff after Kalou had made strides down the middle.

On six minutes Kalou drove a similar effort from an angle at Heaton, those two attempts sandwiching energetic QPR advances down the Chelsea flanks.

On nine minutes came the first moment of really quality in the game and it was one of the new faces feeding the other, Borini heading a superbly-struck near-post cross by Zhirkov (below) just off-target. The Italian held his head, knowing how good a chance it had been to open his account.

Quarter-of-an-hour in, Buzasky for the visitors struck a speculative effort over at the Matthew Harding End to keep the 6,000 QPR fans at the other end lively.

For the next 15 minutes, Chelsea enjoyed superiority territorially and in possession but a way could not be found through the red and black hooped backline, although Joe Cole began to demand and receive more of the ball.

Borini had a snapshot blocked and Malouda drilled a shot across the drizzle-dampened turf and into the side-netting.

Then Cole didn't make decent contact when a Ferreira cross dropped to him in a difficult position in front of the near post.

QPR were finding space on the right of the Chelsea defence but continued to be restricted to long-range efforts, Hilario stopping a Vine shot 10 minutes before the break.

Chelsea had a long-range strike of our own in stoppage time before the break after Kalou was fouled 35-yards out. In the absence of the usual three free-kick takers, Belletti applied a Brazilian thump to the ball but Heaton pulled off an ungainly save at the top corner.

That was a close as anyone had come to scoring. A step-up in quality would be needed second-half to avoid extra time.

To facilitate that, Lampard was a half-time switch for Malouda but before the vice-captain could make an impact, a Vine pass unpicked the Chelsea defence and the speedy Wayne Routledge was chasing through. Hilario was alert and did well to win the race.

It was another Routledge attack that was the prelude to Chelsea's goal. The winger had charged past Ferreira but Hutchinson was in place to take command and set the Blues on the attack. The ball was worked on to Joe Cole who did excellently to maintain possession under pressure before spinning a pass out to Kalou.

Onside, the Ivorian cut inside and struck a shot low beyond Heaton and in off the far post.

That was on 51 minutes and six minutes later, Borini, beginning to show a good burst of acceleration, ran onto a Mikel pass and beyond Gorkass before forcing a near-post save from the keeper.

The Italian also out-paced centre-half Stewart in the next attack as he began to settle down.

Buzsaky called upon Hilario to make a diving save with a dipping drive as QPR attempted to retaliate.

On 68 minutes Ashley Cole came on for Zhirkov who had played a steady if unspectacular first game for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The next sub was Terry for Hutchinson (below) who received a noisy round of applause. The defender who had such a rotten time with injury the previous two seasons can be proud of his night.

Just before that change, Belletti went on a tremendous 50-yard run that nearly ended with Stewart diverting the cross into his own net.

On 84 minutes it took a blinding save (almost literally with it hitting the keeper in the face) to deny Joe Cole a comeback goal after a tidy exchange of passes with Kalou.

The final minutes were a safe closing to the game for Chelsea, a corner conceded was the one moment of hope for the visitors from W12..

The win, in front of 37,781 spectators, equalled Chelsea's 23-game unbeaten record, previously set between January and May 2007.

Our fourth round opponents will be drawn this Saturday lunchtime.

Chelsea (4-diamond-2): Hilario; Ferreira, Hutchinson (Terry 77), Ivanovic, Zhirkov (A Cole 68); Mikel; Belletti, Malouda (Lampard h-t); J Cole (c); Kalou, Borini.
Scorers Kalou.

QPR (4-4-2): Heaton; Borrowdale, Gorkss, Stewart, Leigertwood; Routledge, Rowlands (c) (Ephram 73),Buzsaky, Faurlin; Vine (Taarabt 65), Simpson (Pellicori 73).

Phone Chelsea TV straight after the game with your comments on the action or watch the full 90 minutes from 10.15pm. Chelsea

The Times September 24, 2009 - Joe Cole steals limelight on Chelsea return
Chelsea 1 Queens Park Rangers 0 Russell Kempson

It may have represented little more than a duel for local bragging rights but Chelsea, the Barclays Premier League leaders, were forced to take it seriously by a resolute Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge last night.

Only after the second-half introduction of Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry, the England stalwarts, did they earn safe passage into the fourth round.

If Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, stood accused of not taking the competition seriously by fielding a weakened line-up, at least it gave the home fans a possible glimpse of the future. Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira returned from long-term knee injuries and Yuri Zhirkov, an £18 million summer buy from CSKA Moscow, made a belated debut after suffering from a similar problem.

Ancelotti, keeping his big names on the substitutes’ bench in case of emergency, also offered a chance to youth, a gesture rarely made by any of his predecessors. Sam Hutchinson, a 20-year-old former club academy central defender, made his debut and Fabio Borini, the 18-year-old Italian striker, his first start. When the “golden oldies” retire or move on from Stamford Bridge, the next generation might be ready.

How Flavio Briatore, the QPR co-owner, would have loved the occasion, hobnobbing it with their illustrious cousins from West London. In twelfth place in the Coca-Cola Championship and with only one defeat in nine league and cup matches this season, QPR perhaps deserved an evening in the spotlight, albeit against a tad tougher opposition than in previous rounds, when they defeated Exeter City and Accrington Stanley.

In the wake of “Crashgate”, though, Briatore, the disgraced former Renault managing director, was lying low, believed to be abroad trying to salvage what was left of his reputation. Pity. He would have witnessed a stirring first-half display from QPR, in which they more than matched Chelsea for spirit and endeavour.

Only when they approached the home area did their industrious work falter.

As expected, Chelsea exhibited the class. Cole, the captain, was everywhere, cutting in from the left flank and orchestrating all their best moves. He has been away a long time and it is nine months to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year but his absence does not appear to have dulled his ambition or sense of adventure. Fabio Capello, the England manager, should take a look some time soon.

Strangely, Chelsea were also lacking in penetration in the final third of the pitch. Florent Malouda drove straight at Tom Heaton, the QPR goalkeeper, Salomon Kalou did the same and then Zhirkov, on one of his familiar left-wing raids, crossed for Borini to send a diving header flashing wide. On an isolated QPR break, Hilário saved easily from Alejandro Faurlin.

Heaton had to work harder, when Juliano Belletti powered in a 35-yard free kick shortly before half-time and he was up to the task, palming the ball away in spectacular fashion. Still, Ancelotti needed more composure and creativity in midfield and opted wisely to bring on Lampard for Malouda at the start of the second half.

Straight away, Chelsea upped the ante, although not before Hilário had had to race from his goalline to deny the onrushing Wayne Routledge. Faurlin fouled Belletti on the edge of the QPR area but Lampard’s free kick failed to clear the defensive wall. It was a warning that the Coca-Cola Championship side did not heed.

In the 52nd minute, Chelsea broke away, swiftly and incisively, with Kalou cutting in from the right flank and beating Heaton with a low shot that cannoned in off the far post.

Back came QPR and how, launching themselves forward in wave after wave. Jay Simpson shot across the face of Hilário’s goal, with Routledge only inches from making contact at the far post. Akos Buzsaky then forced Hilário into a sprawling save as the ball threatened to dip under his diving body. In no way were they giving up without a scrap.

Ashley Cole entered the fray to bolster the Chelsea defence, replacing the tiring Zhirkov, but it was his namesake, Joe, who almost eased the nagging home fears. A goal would have been a fair reward for his selfless display, but he took too long over a shot and was crowded out. The Times

Telegraph - Jason Burt - Chelsea 1 Queens Park Rangers 0: match report
Read a full match report of the Carling Cup game between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday Sept 23, 2009.

The Chelsea supporters sang about celery, Joe Cole had talked about playing in the sausage roll but Queens Park Rangers were, ultimately, unable to provide much food for thought for Carlo Ancelotti – a gourmet himself of course – as his team eased into the next round of the Carling Cup. It’s eight wins from eight for the Italian and 23 matches unbeaten – equalling the club record – for Chelsea.

In the fullness of the season they – and England – will hope that the importance of this encounter will be the marking of Cole’s return from injury, cruciate ligament damage having ruled the midfielder out since January, with Ancelotti using him in the sausage roll role, so to speak, Cockney-rhyming slang for ‘in the hole’ (ie. Behind the strikers).

The tip of the diamond is another way to put it and although Cole was far from polished Ancelotti will have noted that it was from his pass that Chelsea scored the only goal although he was denied adding a second late on. Rangers, for all the professed ambition of their owners, they are the richest club in west London after all, were game but limited.

This has remained a competition low on priority but high in meaning for Chelsea, the first trophy captured after Roman Abramovich’s takeover and under Jose Mourinho and, as such, is also one that has caused a little tension. Despite the demands of Champions League and Premier League the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard have made clear to previous managers that they wanted to play.

Last night Ancelotti placed them among the substitutes but although that, in itself, represented a significant shift in Chelsea’s stewardship there was hardly a plethora of Frank Arnesen recruits on display. Sifting through the team sheet and the only nugget – hopefully – was 18-year-old Fabio Borini, the Italian who has caught the attention of Ancelotti.

Still, there were three full debuts including, most importantly, £18-million recruit Yuri Zhirkov, injured in pre-season, while 10 changes were made from the team that started in that other London derby, against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. Rangers, meanwhile, limited their changes and also took to the field without one of their co-owners, Flavio Briatore, in attendance although 6,000 visiting supporters were. The central figure in the Renault scandal decided to keep a low-profile for the kind of high-table contest he presumably invested in Rangers for.

Two of those debutants – Zhirkov and Borini – combined early on with the latter heading the former’s cross past a post but it was a rare combination in the opening exchanges which was barely a surprise given the unfamiliarity of the Chelsea line-up. In itself that represented an opportunity for Rangers, in-form after victory away to Cardiff City, but apart from a shot from distance from Akos Buzsaky and a threatening break by Mikele Leigertwood they offered little.

A neat, 360-degree turn from Joe Cole shrugged off two challenges and drew a foul from Martin Rowlands but the free-kick was wasted while Rowan Vine over-ran the ball following a rapid burst forward by Wayne Routledge. Up front for Chelsea and Borini, neat in possession, was struggling with the physical buffeting while the lack of cohesion was summed up by a threaded pass by Joe Cole into the space where Juliano Belletti should have been. Except he was 20 yards behind his team-mate.

Florent Malouda – the only starter retained from the Spurs match – drove a shot into the side-netting from a corner, having fired straight at goalkeeper Tom Heaton in the opening minute, before Joe Cole met Paulo Ferreira’s cross only to sweep his effort across goal and beyond the far post.

Chelsea were also being limited by Rangers’ disciplined defending. They did not commit. Their main threat was the on-loan, from Arsenal, Jay Simpson and when he turned nimbly in the penalty area only a fine tackle by Branislav Ivanovic prevented a shot. On the stroke of half-time, Heaton pushed away Belletti’s fierce free-kick and Rangers departed pleased with their work.

Ancelotti weighed up his options and decided he had seen enough. On came Lampard. Chelsea needed greater urgency; greater threat. Extra-time was looking ominously likely. However it was Rangers who provided the first danger with Vine brilliantly dissecting the Chelsea defence for Routledge to run on. Henrique Hilario rushed from goal to, just, beat the winger to the pass. But Lampard was making a difference. He upped the tempo and, finally, Chelsea clicked. Joe Cole turned in the centre circle, beating Rowland, to release Salomon Kalou down the left and the striker cut inside Leigertwood to curl his shot around Heaton and into the net.

Rangers felt aggrieved that all their effort had been so simply undone and responded by pouring forward. It left them vulnerable to the counter and Lampard quickly found Borini who scampered into the area to draw a save from Heaton with the ball the falling behind the unmarked Belletti.

Buzsaky, with a shot that bounced just before the goalkeeper, forced a save from Hilario and Rangers continued to try and up their threat while Ancelotti responded by sending on high-class replacements in Ashley Cole and John Terry although the sight of the latter, in particular, did seem perverse. Telegraph

Guardian Salomon Kalou's strike put the gloss on Joe Cole's dream return for Chelsea - David Hytner at Stamford Bridge

Joe Cole had dreamed of this moment for eight long months. From time to time, during the arduous rehabilitation from his cruciate knee ligament injury, the Chelsea midfielder closed his eyes and heard the roar of the Stamford Bridge crowd and imagined the thrill of a return to first-team football. When the long overdue feelings came back, he could also celebrate his part in what proved to be the winning goal.

Cole's close control and pass early in the second half caught out the Rangers back line and urged Salomon Kalou to gallop forward on goal. There was still plenty of work to be done but the Ivorian's composure and finish matched the slick build-up. For Cole, who was pressed through the whole 90 minutes, and his team, this was an eighth consecutive victory of the season. Carlo Ancelotti, the coach, knows only the grinding satisfaction of result after result.

The Rangers co-owner Flavio Briatore, meanwhile, has already supervised one car crash and he could be pleased that there was not another here. The manager, Jim Magilton, declared himself "immensely proud", but, despite their endeavour, Rangers lacked the finesse to fashion anything of note in front of goal. The moment that most dramatically quickened the pulses of their supporters was Akos Buzsaky's 25-yard shot that reared up and forced Henrique Hilário to paw behind for a corner. Otherwise, Chelsea were comfortable.

"It was an emotional night for me," said Cole, who was named as captain. "There was a lump in my throat just warming up against Porto last week. You think people have forgotten you, so to come out and hear them singing my name was just brilliant.

"Chelsea are my club, I was a ballboy here and to captain Chelsea for the first time was unbelievable. I know it was the Carling Cup, but tonight was one of the biggest games of my career."

The major pre-match talking point concerned the identity of the Chelsea starting line-up. Although Ancelotti retained just Florent Malouda from that which beat Tottenham Hotspur here on Sunday, he began with only two players from the club's academy – the central defender Sam Hutchinson and the striker Fabio Borini. For both, it represented their full debut. Jeffrey Bruma, another academy centre-half, was an unused substitute.

Much has been made of the lack of first-team progress of the club's youth players, who, until recently, were under the charge of the sporting director, Frank Arnesen. Yet, in some respects, the sight of two of them in the team was encouraging. Ancelotti may have discovered that it is no easy task telling John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole et al that they must start on the bench. Chelsea's leading stars always insist on playing.

It was also understood that Gaël Kakuta, the academy winger at the centre of Chelsea's 12-month transfer window ban, could have been selected because the club had still not received Fifa's full written explanation of its ruling by kick-off. Kakuta's four-month suspension is only to begin when the paperwork arrives. Chelsea expect to receive it by 5pm tomorrow.

Rangers, mid-table in the Championship, were up for the fight. So were their supporters, who filled the Shed End. As a light rain fell, there was a real cup-tie derby under the floodlights. Their discipline was laudable but Magilton remarked that they "lacked belief in the final third or someone to take a risk to win the game".

Chelsea, who gave a debut to the £18m summer signing Yuri Zhirkov, went close through Borini, Joe Cole and Juliano Belletti in the first half. They needed a spark in the second half and Lampard's introduction helped to provide it. Yet it was Cole who prised Rangers apart. He released Kalou through the inside-left channel and, with the Rangers back-pedalling, he cut inside Mikele Leigertwood to drill home low and right-footed.

After Borini had shot unconvincingly at Tom Heaton, from Lampard's through ball, and Hilario saved from Buzsaky, Cole almost set the seal on his evening. Having swapped passes with Kalou, he tiptoed into the area but shot straight at Heaton. "I should have scored," he said. "But I'm back and it's just blinding." Guardian

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