Wednesday 23 January 2019

Carlo's Chelsea lifeline

Anelka's brace stops Blues rot as Ancelotti sets sights on United

Carlo Ancelotti watched Chelsea cruise to the win at FC Copenhagen they so desperately needed before telling his players: "Now go and beat Manchester United."

The Blues last night moved to within touching distance of the Champions League quarter-finals and eased the mounting pressure on manager Ancelotti with a 2-0 victory in the first leg of their last-16 tie at a frozen Parken Stadium.

The result kept alive their one remaining hope of silverware this season following a miserable few months that have seen last year's double winners all but surrender their Premier League title and crash out of the FA Cup.

It got better for Chelsea when Tottenham were beaten 3-1 at Blackpool last night, giving their London rivals the chance to reclaim fourth place in the league if they beat United on Tuesday night.

"We don't have to be happy for Tottenham's defeat, but it was good news for us," said Ancelotti, who urged his side to repeat their Copenhagen display against the Premier League leaders.

"Now we have to play against United and try and put in the same performance."

Ancelotti refused to get carried away with last night's result, which came against a Copenhagen side playing their first competitive match since Danish football's two-and-a-half month winter shutdown.

Asked if their miserable run was over, the Italian said: "I don't want to say.

"I've suggested that once or twice before.


"We had a lot of motivation for this game, but now we have to continue it.

"United will be a fantastic opportunity for us to maintain the same level of football."

Ancelotti defiantly declared on Monday that "Chelsea has not died", and he added last night: "We are still alive.

"I had an idea before the game, and I maintain the same idea now.

"We are not dead. It's just one game, though.

"I want to see my team play again, again, again."

Ancelotti hailed his strikers as the best in Europe after a game in which Nicolas Anelka scored twice and Fernando Torres did everything but find the net.

Ancelotti said of Torres, who again missed several chances to open his Chelsea account: "His performance was really good.

"There's a little bit of disappointment because he could have scored. But it doesn't matter. His movement with Anelka was so good.

"Anelka was able to score and Torres had a lot of opportunities that he created with his movement.

"He will score in the next game."

Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken claimed too many of his players underperformed and admitted he got his tactics wrong.

"To be honest, some of my best players maybe didn't have their best days," said Solbakken, who admitted blundering by starting former Chelsea star Jesper Gronkjaer on the wing.

"Maybe we will never be as good as Chelsea but, on another day, we could have been a lot closer to them.

"Chelsea were two goals better than us; no discussion."

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