Carlo Ancelotti thrilled with his Chelsea strikers
COPENHAGEN // Carlo Ancelotti tonight declared Chelsea’s strikers the best in Europe after watching Nicolas Anelka fire them to within touching distance of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Anelka’s double in the Blues’ 2-0 win in their last-16 first leg at FC Copenhagen took the Frenchman’s incredible record in this season’s competition to seven goals in just six matches.
His strikes ensured Chelsea kept alive their bid for the last silverware available to them in their ailing campaign, one which has piled the pressure on Ancelotti.
That eased tonight, with Anelka linking up to good effect with £50 million (Dh297m) man Torres, who had another night to forget in front of goal but whose overall contribution was a big improvement on his first two games for the club.
With Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou coming off the bench in the second-half, Chelsea boast a embarrassment of attacking options when their forwards are fit and firing.
Asked if they were the best in Europe, Ancelotti said: “Yes, I think. We want to maintain their fitness, but rotation could do them good with the Premier League and the Champions League.
“They are accepting my decisions without problems, and this is important. To have them available at the moment, it’s important at this time of year.
“We have fantastic strikers. I have to make a decision about the games, to put them in or not. Didier played for two hours against Everton. Torres and Anelka were fresh and, together, they played well.
“[Frank] Lampard also had good combinations with Fernando.”
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.”
Chelsea’s display was a vast improvement on Saturday’s shock FA Cup defeat to Everton but Copenhagen also looked every inch a side who had not played a competitive game for two-and-a-half months.
“We played with intelligence, showed good football, good efficiency, playing quick attacking play,” Ancelotti said.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score.”
Ancelotti defiantly declared yesterday that “Chelsea has not died”.
“We are still alive,” he added. “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.”
Stale Solbakken, the Copenhagen coach, had no complaints with the result, admitting he got his tactics wrong.
“We lost to a better team,” he said.
“They were stronger than us and we made too many technical errors.
“To be honest, some of my best players maybe didn’t have their best days. They looked sharper and were quicker.
“Some of my players played very well and should have a positive feeling in a few days, but others didn’t live up to what they achieved before.
“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.”
He added: “It was probably a mistake to start with (Jesper) Gronkjaer on the wing.
“I won’t blame Cesar [Santin], who tried hard, but maybe it was a little bit too optimistic for me to put Jesper in that role in a four-man midfield where he had to work so much in defence.
“That’s also down to the fact that we lost the ball too often. He didn’t have the stamina or offensive explosions to hurt them.”
Published: February 23, 2011 04:00 AM