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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Chelsea 2-0 Schalke 04
By Stuart Roach

Didier Drogba heads Chelsea's second goal
Drogba dives to head Chelsea 2-0 in front
Goals from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba put Chelsea within sight of the Champions League knockout stages in a comfortable win over Schalke.

Malouda put Avram Grant's side in front inside four minutes when his left-foot strike squirmed through the legs of embarrassed German keeper Manuel Neuer.

Drogba made the game safe two minutes into the second half when he dived to flick home Paolo Ferreira's's cross.

Soren Larson was closest for injury-hit Schalke when he headed against a post.

Chelsea came into the game in buoyant mood, on the back of three straight wins under Grant and keen not to suffer a repeat of the previous Champions League night at Stamford Bridge last month.

On that occasion, a disappointing 1-1 draw with Rosenborg spelt the end of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea reign and saw Grant ushered in as head coach.

606: DEBATE

On the eve of his first home Champions League game, Grant pledged attacking football and pure entertainment - and it took less than four minutes for his side to make good that promise.

Frank Lampard - captain in the absence of John Terry - floated a long ball forward and Drogba brilliantly flicked a header into the path of Malouda.

The French winger cut inside and then out again to leave defender Rafinha dizzy and Malouda's left-foot shot took a slight deflection off the defender before squeezing through the hands and legs of the befuddled keeper.

The Germany Under-21 international was left painfully red-faced by his error and the early breakthrough hinted at a hammering for the Germans, who have failed to get past the group stages in their two previous Champions League attempts.

But Chelsea, despite hogging possession, were unable to turn the screw and failed to provide further proof of the expansive style promised by Grant.

That fact was even more surprising given that Schalke were without seven first-team regulars, exacerbated by the withdrawal of Kevin Kuranyi with a leg injury following the pre-match warm-up.

So bad were their injury problems that coach Mirko Slomka was able to name only five of his permitted seven substitutes on the bench.

Yet, despite the lack of personnel, the German side provided a stubborn resistance and could easily have been on level terms midway through the first half.

With two half-hearted penalty appeals already waved away, Schalke were left cursing the officials again on 28 minutes when Carlos Grossmuller turned and fired home, but only having first leaned fractionally into an offside position.

The hard-working Fabian Ernst then dipped a long-range effort just over but Chelsea finished the half strongly and Joe Cole's injury-time drive forced Neuer to redeem himself with a fine save lown down to his right.

Florent Malouda is congratulated on his opener by Wayne Bridge
Malouda celebrates his opener at Stamford Bridge
And the home side put the result beyond reasonable doubt as they started the second half the way they had begun the first.

Ferreira was allowed space down the right and floated an inviting cross for Drogba to dive and flick a header beyond the advancing Neuer for his 14th goal in 30 Champions League games for Chelsea.

This was Drogba's first Stamford Bridge appearance since his outspoken views on his future at the club and a handful of disgruntled Chelsea fans took the opportunity to air their opinions.

But if those views were still being voiced in the early stages of the second half, they were drowned out by the celebrations of those who have clearly forgiven the Ivorian striker.

Cole and Claude Makelele both narrowly failed with long-range efforts but Chelsea again took their foot off the gas and Schalke served notice that the game was not yet won when Larsen headed against a post, the rebound flying straight into the arms of a grateful Petr Cech.

And Chelsea had a lucky escape five minutes from time when Alex's mishit back-pass let in Larsen, who was clearly tugged back by the desperate Brazilian only for referee Peter Frojdfeldt to wave away Schalke's frantic appeals.

It was a clear foul and an obvious red card, yet Frojdfeldt was at least consistent as he then denied Drogba a penalty after the striker had been chopped down by Marcelo Bordon.


Chelsea manager Avram Grant:
"We wanted to start well and we did that - not just the goal but by playing good football.

"Then we rested but we scored early again in the second half and could have had more goals, but the important thing is that we won and continued to improve.

"Schalke hit the post and I didn't see what happened with the Alex incident, but we had four or five chances to score again.

"Today was Roman Abramovic's 41st birthday so, for him, it's good. He deserves it and has done so much for the team and the fans, so I wish him a happy birthday."


Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Alex, Bridge, Essien (Obi 70), Makelele, Lampard, Joe Cole (Shevchenko 89), Malouda (Kalou 83), Drogba.
Subs not used: Cudicini, Pizarro, Ben-Haim, Belletti.

Goals: Malouda 4, Drogba 47.

Schalke 04: Neuer, Rafinha, Westermann, Bordon, Rodriguez (Bajramovic 81), Ernst, Jones, Grossmuller (Azaouagh 76), Asamoah (Rakitic 61), Lovenkrands, Larsen.
Subs not used: Schober, Howedes.

Booked: Jones, Rodriguez.

Attendance: 40,910

Referee: Peter Frojdfeldt (Sweden).



SEE ALSO
Champions League photos
24 Oct 07 |  Europe
Champions League as it happened
24 Oct 07 |  Europe


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