Chelsea's Champions League Quest Begins With a Win Over Porto
It is the trophy Chelsea have been lusting after for years now. The one major piece of silverware that has eluded them since Roman Abramovich's riches arrived at Stamford Bridge.
Only football fans could still want something that has caused them so much heartache in recent times.
Louis Garcia's "phantom goal" (as it is known to all non-Liverpool fans) put them out at the semi-final stage in 2005; a penalty shoot-out provided them with the same fate at the same stage against the same opponents two years later as well.
In 2008 they came within one kick of European glory, but a slip by John Terry led to a recovery in the penalty shoot-out by Manchester United who went on to win.
Just last year, further heartbreak came in the form of Andreas Iniesta, who scored a last minute winner to dump Chelsea out at the semi-final stage once more after a number of contentious decisions by referee Tom Ovrebo.
Despite all this, tonight Chelsea gave the Champions League another go, with many fans and pundits tipping them to finally get their hands on the trophy.
As they kicked off their latest campaign, they were also defending Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) for a record 19th time.
Their opponents were 2004 Champions League winners Porto, a team who had never won in England and were a shadow of the side Jose Mourinho lifted the trophy with five years ago.
Chelsea, on the other hand, had been through their own Mourinho era, and the new boss, Carlo Ancelotti, brought a European pedigree that eclipsed even that of the "Special One".
Hopes were high, then, that he could maintain his 100 percent record as Chelsea boss to get their Champions League onslaught off to a winning start.
And that is exactly what he did, seeing his Chelsea side run out 1-0 winners.
It was a far from convincing display, however, as the Blues struggled to exert their authority without the suspended Didier Drogba.
Frank Lampard tried fill the Ivorians goal-scoring shoes and take advantage of the treacherous conditions with a low drive from long range which was kept out by Helton in the Porto goal before Hulk tested Cech with an effort of his own.
Lampard again came close not long after, being denied once more by a good save from Helton.
Despite Porto's main objective being not to lose, they had moments where they could have taken what would've been a shock lead. Indeed, in the first half, they were very much Chelsea's equal.
Guarin should have punished Chelsea's poor marking just before the break after he was left free inside the box. His header sailed over the crossbar, however, leading many inside Stamford Bridge to breathe a sigh of relief.
As it turned out, it was Porto who were punished first.
Chelsea began the second half in the best way possible - taking the lead.
Nicolas Anelka forced a good save out of Helton before reacting to the rebound quicker than anyone else and opening Chelsea's Champions League account for the season.
It wasn't long before more chances were created. Florent Malouda could only find the side netting before Salomon Kalou powered a header towards goal, only to be denied by another impressive Helton save.
As the match wore on, Chelsea's second-half dominance began to subside, allowing Porto back in the game. Guarin was denied twice by Cech before the Chelsea goalkeeper kept out Varela in fine fashion.
It was a nervous ending for Chelsea as Porto flooded forward looking for an equaliser without ever really threatening the goal.
In the end, they not only failed to level the scores, but finished with ten men too, Francisco Fernando paying the price for his over-zealous and late challenge on Ashley Cole with a second yellow card.
Those two yellows became the seventh red card in UWCC history, while Chelsea extended their record winning streak to six games.
Of the 53 voters in the poll, 77.4 percent predicted that Porto would not be able to get the three points against Chelsea, so well done to the majority again!
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea (Chelsea become new champions)
Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United (Chelsea won 4-1 on penalties)
Chelsea 1-0 Porto
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Chelsea's next title defence comes on Sunday as they face Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. Can Spurs topple Chelsea and regain the UWCC title?!
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