Cause to celebrate
Chelsea 2-1 Leicester CityIt was a day when you wanted to be a Chelsea fan.
As the District Line crawled its way towards Fulham Broadway and excited blue shirted fans piled on at each and every stop, you couldn't help but share the excitement they felt ahead of this carnival afternoon at Stamford Bridge.
This was the best show in London town this Saturday afternoon and the £120 ticket price touts were quoting proved as much.
And if the anticipation outside the ground was something unique, the scenes before kick-off were equally remarkable. No club can ever have devoted eight pages in it's club programme to their summer signings and introducing each to a thrilled audience took a good 15 minutes.
Then came new owner Roman Abramovich's entrance, strolling around the pitch to huge ovations from his adoring public and his welcome was complete by a Russian waltz being played over the PA system as he took his seat in his executive box directly over the half way line in Chelsea's East Stand.
Oh, there was a football match to be played as well and it took the Blues just over two minutes to confirm Leicester were not going to be the ultimate party poopers. Yet the irony of Chelsea's opening goal was not lost on anyone at Stamford Bridge.
After Damien Duff did well to win a corner on his home debut, Juan Veron's swinging set play landed on the head of Leicester's Lilian Nalis, who could only diver the ball past Ian Walker from 10 yards out. It was a clinical header, with his only minor error being that it came at the wrong end of the pitch.
Duff was a constant threat, switching from left to right flanks and the Irishman was at the heart of moves that saw Veron and Frank Lampard go close in the opening half an hour.
And while Leicester rarely threatened the Blues backline, they were still in the game as captain Muzzy Izzet pumped a searching free-kick into the Chelsea box six minutes before the break.
Amid stunned silence around Stamford Bridge, the pass caught out Blues centre-back John Terry and James Scowcroft nipped in behind him to convert with a fine header that left Carlo Cudicini flat footed in the Chelsea goal.
Yet while this Chelsea side may lack the fluidity of their Premiership rivals in chief, they do possess a host of individuals who have the capacity to change the course of a game and their most recent capture did just that on the stroke of half-time.
After Adrian Mutu's free-kick pounded into the Leicester wall, he latched onto the follow up with and with his other foot, blasted a 25 yards shot the curled away from Walker and restored Chelsea's lead.
Hasselbaink's 55th minute effort that hit a post after a misjudgement by Ian Walker was the only notable incident in the first period of the second half, but then referee Rob Styles had the sort of impact on the game he is now becoming famous for.
After Chelsea new boy Geremi won the ball in a challenge with Riccardo Scimeca, Styles dived straight into his pocket to produce a red card. Replays provided evidence that it was a woeful decision.
With the one man advantage and Keith Gillespie on to provide Leicester with some attacking width, the visitors sniffed a shock equaliser and it so nearly came as Deane hit the bar five minutes from time.
By then, Styles had sent off Leicester's Alan Rodgers for kicking out at Jesper Gronkjaer, but the referee still had time to disgrace himself further as he sent off Scimeca for winning the ball in a challenge with substitute Joe Cole to ensure a game that barely featured a nasty tackled ended with just 19 men on the field.
'It as not a game that justified three red cards and we are very disappointed by the decision to send off our two lads, but I am not going to criticise Mr Styles for the sake of it,' confirmed Micky Adams.
'In the end, we could have nicked a point and while we rode our luck at times, I felt we got the tactics just right against a side with so much talent. In the end, despite that late chance, we just fell short, but I really enjoyed the occasion. It was a memorable day.'
Cole's stunning effort in injury time deserved more as he twisted and turned on the edge of the box before crashing a shot against the bar deserved to cap the day in style, but Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri was happy nonetheless.
'It was a special day for so many reasons, but the most important thing was we won the game,' said the Italian. 'And in the end, we were very relieved to do that because Leicester showed a lot of fight and gave us some difficult moments.
'This was a normal performance for us. Liverpool last week was a big surprise because it will take time with so many new players, but I don't know how long. At least we are winning games as we learn.'
Ranieri struggled to hide the fact that Inter Milan striker Hernan Crespo would be the next superstar arriving at Chelsea, with his medical set for tomorrow morning.
'I don't know what will happen there,' he said trying to keep a straight face, while making a gesture to suggest his nose was growing. 'Once I am told Crespo has signed, I will tell you.'
So it's played two, won two in Chelsea's Russian revolution, but this performance posed more questions than answers over their hopes for the campaign.
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