Lampard, Chelsea settle for gutsy victory

Frank Lampard admitted Chelsea were not at their best as they posted a narrow 1-0 victory over FC Porto at a rain-sodden Stamford Bridge.

The Blues’ opening Champions League Group D match was settled by Nicolas Anelka’s strike three minutes after the interval, but good football was thin on the ground as torrential rain in west London made the playing conditions hard work.

Chelsea were good value for their victory despite the marginal scoreline, and Lampard was relieved to get three points from a tricky opening game.

“It was a great result, we weren’t at our best tonight but it was a difficult night and we got the win,” Lampard told Sky Sports.

“You can’t always play top, top football. The ball was skidding about, some of our passing went astray, but we’ve got to stay strong and win the game, and that’s what we did.”

Chelsea were without Didier Drogba, who is banned for the first three group games following his foul-mouthed rant after the semi-final defeat to Barcelona last season, and Lampard praised Anelka and Salomon Kalou for shouldering the burden up front.

He said: “We played a big portion of the season last year without Didier. Obviously you want him playing, but if you don’t have him, Nicolas and Kalou up front are top players too.”

Asked whether Chelsea felt more motivated to succeed in Europe with the memories of last season’s controversial exit at the hands of Barca still raw, Lampard said: “Every year is different, and every year we go into it we want to win it.

“There’s no year we want it more than any other.

“We wanted it last year badly, when we nearly got to the final, and this year we want it badly again.”

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti conceded that his players looked a touch jaded after the interval, but was happy to come away with his sixth straight win at the helm.

“We have to control the game more when we go ahead,” the Italian said, “but we are a little bit tired I think.

“We had a tough match last Saturday [a last-gasp 2-1 win over Stoke]. It is normal to get tired in the second half because we worked hard.

“Porto played very well, especially at the end. Porto are the best team in the group and it was a good result.”

Ancelotti also echoed Lampard’s praise of Anelka’s performance, saying: “Nicolas is a great player – he can play with Didier and without Didier.”