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3-min read

Mata guides Chelsea to 2-0 win over Leverkusen

Two second-half goals from David Luiz and Juan Mata gave Chelsea a win in their Champions League opener.

| Goal.com

Updated:September 14, 2011, 2:46 AM IST
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Mata guides Chelsea to 2-0 win over Leverkusen
Two second-half goals from David Luiz and Juan Mata gave Chelsea a win in their Champions League opener.

London: Two second-half goals from David Luiz and Juan Mata gave Chelsea the ideal start to their Champions League campaign after the London side were made to toil for a 2-0 victory against German outfit Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, in a game which saw Fernando Torres' goal drought continue.

The victory, the first for new boss Andre Villas-Boas in the competition, sees Chelsea take the early lead in Group E as they now turn their collective focus on next Wednesday's trip to Valencia. Before that though, they face Premier League champions Manchester United in a league tie on Sunday.

Perhaps keeping that in mind, Villas-Boas made a number of changes from the team which beat Sunderland at the weekend. Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka were named on the bench while Daniel Sturridge retained his spot, with Fernando Torres returning to the starting XI in search of only his second goal since arriving in west London.

The visitors, on the other hand, were looking to continue their fine league form in their return to Europe's elite club competition after their last match back in March 2005 ended in a 3-1 defeat to Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool.

The game begun in fascinating form, under two minutes had elapsed when Fernando Torres, who is still struggling for goals at Stamford Bridge, hooked a shot over his head only to see it float over the Leverkusen crossbar. Moments later a cross found its way into the Chelsea net via the head of Simon Rolfes, only to have the referee to chalk off the score for a foul on Torres.

The craziness continued with Chelsea apparently taking the lead when Torres tapped the ball beyond Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal after the deftest of touches from new signing Raul Meireles was decisive in beating the keeper. However, the officials conferred and agreed that the touch from Meireles made him offside and another potential goal was disallowed. The television replays were not conclusive in clarifying the matter.

Chelsea didn’t let this deter them and Torres was there again after 10 minutes to try and break his dry spell, but Leno denied him once more.

The half was end-to-end throughout, with Sturridge seeming the most likely to open the scoring and Torres clearly lacking self-confidence in his undeniable ability. The pattern was clear. Sturridge was testing Leno with a number of efforts but his more esteemed colleague was frequently failing to find the sweet spot and the German side were benefitting with this inaccuracy.

Apart from the Torres affair the other sub-plot of the game was the return of Michael Ballack, who was given a memento before kick-off for his service to Chelsea. The midfielder was relatively quiet in the first half and a chance to open the scoring came his way after 56 mintues but a sprawling Petr Cech managed to kick the ball from under him to keep the scores locked at 0-0.

Sturridge continued in his search for the opening goal and after the hour the youngster came very close to doing just that. A Juan Mata cross from the left was met at the back post by Sturridge whose jabbed effort into the post was clawed away from Leno, who was proving a tough opponent to beat for Chelsea. It would be the last act by Sturridge who was replaced along with Meireles by Nicolas Anelka and Frank Lampard, as Villas-Boas shook up the pieces in the search for a breakthrough.

That breakthrough was quick in arriving but not from an expected source. David Luiz, who had already been booked, let fly from the left side of the penalty box and his shot beat Leno low to his left and the relief at Stamford Bridge was palpable.

The goal took the wind out of Leverkusen's sails and any reaction from the visitors was now unlikely as Chelsea solidified their lead by taking off the already-booked Luiz for Alex in a cautious but frugal move.

With Chelsea now in control, Torres was involved again as provider, following up his assist on the first goal, by laying the ball on a plate for Mata to double the lead moments before the final whistle.

The Chelsea fans would be pleased to make their way into the London night with a win, but the continuing lack of goals from Torres persists, and if a serious assault on this competition is to be sustained, the 50-million-Pound man has to repay his massive fee sooner rather than later with goals in abundance. The emergence of Daniel Sturridge is certainly giving Villas-Boas food for thought though.

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