Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti warned his side would struggle to win the UEFA Champions League if there was any repeat of their lacklustre first half performance in a 2-1 win over MSK Zilina.
Chelsea were forced to come from behind after conceding a shock early goal to the Slovakian minnows, second-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda eventually clinching first place in Group F for Ancelotti's men. The win came as welcome relief to Chelsea, who had suffered a traumatic week after consecutive Premier League defeats and lingering uncertainty about the popular Ancelotti's future at the club.
Ancelotti however insisted his side could forget about lifting the Champions League at Wembley next May if they reproduced the dismal form of the opening 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. "It was a difficult game because we didn't start the game well," said Ancelotti. "We had a good reaction in the second half, with more intensity and good play, and plenty of opportunities to score. But if we play like we did in the first half, it's impossible to win the Champions League."
Needing only a point to be assured of topping the group, Ancelotti fielded an experimental starting line-up featuring several of the club's young prospects including Josh McEachran, Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta. However Ancelotti was swift to wheel out Chelsea's old guard at half-time, yanking the anonymous Kakuta in favour of Ivorian international Salomon Kalou, who promptly set up Sturridge's equaliser.
"I was upset because we didn't play well," Ancelotti said. "We were not playing well. We changed the intensity of play in the second half. This was the difference. We played too slow in the first half and gave them the opportunity to control their defensive position. We didn't play in that first half. We had no intensity or tempo. We changed things immediately in that second half and our behaviour changed."
Ancelotti meanwhile brushed off questions about his Chelsea future, which had been called into doubt in the wake of the club's decision to sack his assistant Ray Wilkins. "I spoke yesterday about this (speculation over his future) and now we want to play football," he said, attempting to draw a line under the questioning.
Chelsea talisman Didier Drogba said he hoped Tuesday's win - which maintained the club's 100 per cent start to the Champions League - would help quell speculation surrounding Ancelotti. "The manager made it clear that he is here and I think we have to focus on the games, on the results," Drogba told Sky Sports. "We have to try to resolve our problems because we are not playing well."
Drogba said Ancelotti's future had not been a topic of discussion amongst Chelsea's players. "We don't speak about this (speculation over Ancelotti's future). We stayed focused on the game we lost against Birmingham. We wanted to go back to winning ways," he said.
However Drogba admitted the squad were sorry to see Wilkins go while voicing support for Michael Emenalo who has moved up to fill the void. "We miss Ray but the players are still the same," Drogba said. "If we are losing it is not because Ray has gone, it is down to the players."