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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 August, 2003, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Mutu strike downs Foxes
Juan Veron and Marcel Desailly celebrate the opener
Chelsea celebrate the opener
Chelsea 2-1 Leicester

A debut goal from Romanian international Adrian Mutu secured Chelsea a hard-earned win over Leicester at Stamford Bridge.

The 15.8m striker celebrated his first appearance since his move from Parma with a stunning goal on the stroke of half-time that proved the difference between the two sides.

Chelsea went in front after just two minutes from an own goal by Leicester midfielder Lilian Nalis before Leicester grabbed an equaliser through Jamie Scowcroft.

Blues midfielder Geremi was sent off after 67 minutes and Leicester ended the match with nine men after Alan Rogers and Riccardo Scimeca were dismissed late on.

Despite some nervy moments Chelsea secured a win for new owner Roman Abramovich, who was given a rousing reception at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri opted to use Mutu up front with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

The depth of Chelsea's side was shown with over 25m worth of talent on the bench and 6m defender Glen Johnson not even a substitute on his 19th birthday.

KEY MOMENTS
3 mins: Leicester's Nalis heads into his own net
39 mins: Scowcroft heads the equaliser for the Foxes
45 mins: Mutu's scores on the stroke of half-time
67 mins: Chelsea are reduced to 10 men when Geremi is dismissed
84 mins: Rogers sent off for serious foul play
88 mins: Scimeca sent-off for two yellow cards
Watching on from the stands was Hernan Crespo, who is expected to complete his 16.5m transfer from Inter Milan next week.

In contrast Leicester handed full debuts to Steve Howey and Nalis, who did not cost the Foxes a penny.

It was not long before Nalis got his name on the scoresheet but not in the way he would have been hoping for.

Juan Sebastian Veron's dangerous corner was put through his own net via the head of the French midfielder with barely two minutes gone.

Both Mutu and Frank Lampard tested Foxes keeper Ian Walker as Chelsea looked to wrap things up early.

But they went off the boil and were made to pay by their dogged opponents.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich
Abramovich got a fine reception
The equaliser came from a free-kick, with Muzzy Izzet's cross finding the head of Scowcroft and from a difficult angle he headed back across towards the far post and past Carlo Cudicini.

But Chelsea made sure they went into the interval in front with a superb strike from Mutu.

The Romanian hit a free-kick rather poorly with his right foot into the wall.

But from the rebound he unleashed a thunderbolt with his left foot that flew past Walker from well outside the area.

It only looked a matter of time before Chelsea got the third but Lampard, Hasselbaink and Damien Duff all missed chances.

HAVE YOUR SAY

The game took another turn when Geremi was dismissed for a bad foul on Scimeca, leaving the home side to play out the final 25 minutes with a man less.

Leicester went close to an equaliser with Scowcroft heading over from a good position.

But Rogers was shown a straight red six minutes from time for kicking out at Jesper Gronkjaer.

Foxes substitute Brian Deane hit the woodwork before Scimeca was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence and Chelsea were able to hold on.


Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Bridge, Duff (Cole 82), Geremi, Lampard, Veron, Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen 87), Mutu (Gronkjaer 69).
Subs Not Used: Ambrosio, Gallas.

Sent Off: Geremi (67).

Leicester: Walker, Impey (Gillespie 52), Curtis, Howey, Thatcher, Rogers, Scimeca, Izzet, Nalis (Hignett 73), Dickov (Deane 73), Scowcroft.
Subs Not Used: Coyne, Taggart.

Sent off: Rogers (84), Scimeca (88).

Booked: Howey, Thatcher, Scimeca.

Attendance: 41,073

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
"A hard-earned unspectacular win for Chelsea"


Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri
"A very important win but today we were not fantastic"




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