Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insists the Blues still have a lot to do to ensure they finish in first place in UEFA Champions League Group F despite a comfortable 2-0 victory over Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium last night.
Chelsea went a little way to banishing the memories of their penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League final in the same stadium two years ago thanks to first-half goals from Yury Zhirkov and Nicolas Anelka. Anelka scored his 50th goal for the club and his fourth in three games in Europe this season two minutes before the break.
But Chelsea were already a goal to the good thanks to a stunning 25-yard volley from former CSKA Moscow left-back Zhirkov in the 23rd minute. It was the Russian international's first goal for the club since his £18m move last year. The victory put Chelsea three points clear at the top of Group F and victory against Spartak in the return match at Stamford Bridge will guarantee them first place.
However Ancelotti chose to remain cautious. "We are not in the last 16 yet," said Ancelotti. "We have to play three games and must do our best in those matches.
"We have to stay focused about the next game. We want to arrive in first place. That's our aim. We will have the possibility to do this, but it doesn't mean we have to rest the other players. The Champions League is an important competition every time you play. For all the games."
Ancelotti was also full of praise for his goalscorers who put the game beyond their opponents before the interval arrived. "We established good control in that first half, scoring two goals and then controlled it defensively in the second," added the Italian. "We played well at the back, above all Petr Cech, who made some fantastic saves.
"I don't think the players were thinking about the last defeat in this stadium. They were focused on this game. It was an important moment for Yury, coming back to play for Chelsea in Russia. He scored a fantastic goal and will be very happy.
"He was very good. He played very well and doesn't have a problem playing either left-back or on the left of midfield. He scored a very important goal and opened up the game. After that, it was easier for us to win the match.
"Anelka showed his qualities and ability to play in front. He's comfortable playing up there when there's no Didier Drogba. He's a fantastic player and can play in all the positions across that front line."
Spartak boss Valery Karpin admitted his side had been "frightened" of Chelsea and promised a different mentality in the return clash in a fortnight. "We had two different halves," said Karpin. "I spoke to the players in the dressing room and realised my team were a bit scared of Chelsea in the first-half.
"We conceded two goals in the first period and only had the fighting spirit after half-time. It was not enough. We will focus on the re-match in London and produce good football there and get some points."