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'Great' Anelka wins Blues praise

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Anelka praises Chelsea's team spirit

Nicolas Anelka won praise from Carlo Ancelotti and John Terry after scoring the only goal in Chelsea's 1-0 Champions League victory over Porto.

The Frenchman, the main striker in the absence of the suspended Didier Drogba, found the net on 48 minutes.

"Everyone was talking about Didier being out but Nic has stepped up to the plate and shown what a great finisher he is," said Chelsea skipper Terry.

Blues coach Ancelotti added: "Anelka is a great player. Drogba was not missed."

Drogba will sit out Chelsea's first three Champions League games after being punished for his behaviour following last season's controversial semi-final defeat by Barcelona.

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In his absence, Ancelotti opted to play Anelka up front against Porto, with support from Salomon Kalou.

And the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Liverpool striker scored just after the break with a smart finish.

"I am very happy for him because he is doing very well now," stated Ancelotti. "With Drogba or without Drogba, he can play alone in the centre of the attack and together with Drogba."

Chelsea were not at their fluent best against Porto but did enough to start their Group D campaign with a win.

Next for the Blues is a trip to Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia, who marked their Champions League debut with a creditable goalless draw at Atletico Madrid.

"Our attacking play was good in the first half and we had a problem in the second half to maintain that," added Ancelotti.

"We can't always play our best and we have won without playing well.

"Porto played very well and, at the end, we were a little bit tired because we had a strong match last Saturday."

Chelsea, who needed a last-minute strike from Florent Malouda to beat Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, had plenty of chances but failed to add to Anelka's goal.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech was forced into several late saves as the Portuguese team pushed for an equaliser.

"I know Porto very well, they are a very good team," said Ancelotti. "They played football very well in this match. The amount of shots on goal they had was not a surprise to me.

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"I was not anxious at the end of the match but we had a difficult time controlling the attacking play of Porto.

"They played very well towards the end of the match. It is normal to have a difficult game but it was a good win for us.

"It was important to win and start well in this group."

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira admitted it had been difficult for his side to overcome Chelsea's goal at the start of the second half.

"Conceding a goal so quickly made us try too hard," he said.

"We showed good quality and played our game but it's very difficult to come to Chelsea and face very attacking football and open up gaps without leaving ourselves exposed."

Meanwhile, Terry was knocked unconscious after being caught by an elbow from Porto captain Bruno Alves in the first half but managed to recover to complete the full 90 minutes.

The England captain received lengthy treatment on the pitch and was clearly left groggy by the collision.

"I went out for a little bit but managed to come round," Terry confirmed. "It's a little bit sore still."



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see also
Tuesday football as it happened
15 Sep 09 |  Football
Chelsea 1-0 FC Porto
15 Sep 09 |  Europe
Drogba and Bosingwa bans reduced
15 Jul 09 |  Chelsea
Champions League photos
15 Sep 09 |  Europe


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