PORTO, Nov 26 – A second half header from Nicolas Anelka handed Chelsea victory in Champions League Group D on Wednesday, securing a 1-0 win over Porto to clinch top spot.Anelka had been the Portuguese side’s assassin in the opening match in the group and once again the Frenchman made the difference, launching himself to connect with Florent Malouda’s cross from the left after good approach work from Yuri Zhirkov, the Russian making a rare start.
The 69th-minute effort, Anelka’s third goal of the competition this season, left Chelsea as clear group victors with 13 points though Porto had already ensured qualification with the nine points they had racked up beforehand to secure a spot in the last 16.
Chelsea skipper John Terry said the win underpinned the English Premiership leaders’ confidence ahead of a tricky weekend match against Arsenal.
"We’ve done what we had to do today and that was get the win. We’re playing with confidence at the moment," Terry told Sky Sports.
Anelka’s strike partner Didier Drogba was also ebullient, noting that "it was important for us to finish top of the group."
Coach Carlo Ancelotti, determined to lead the Londoners to their first title, echoed the Ivorian.
"To finish top of our group was our objective, it was the most important thing. This means we could have a good draw. It is not easy to come here and win. The Champions League is our aim."
In the same group, Atletico Madrid had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at minnows APOEL Nicosia, likewise winless to date.
Chelsea were good value for their win in a tight encounter which saw the visitors settle quickly.
Michael Ballack fired an early deflected effort wide as the visitors setled quickly and Drogba then sent a header from a Deco cross off target.
But Porto came close to taking the lead on 21 minutes when Petr Cech saved well from Fernando Belluschi, who then hit the bar with a rasping drive after latching on to a pass from Silvestre Varela.
Drogba started despite Ancelotti hinting beforehand he might rest the Ivorian, suspended for the opening three pool games following his outburst at the referee of the Blues’ semi-final against Barcelona last season.
Ancelotti also handed a start to Deco, in place of Joe Cole. The Brazilian-born Portuguese lifted the trophy with Porto under Jose Mourinho in 2004.
Porto Jesualdo Ferreira left Brazil striker Hulk on the bench and also had to field second choice keeper Beto after regular Helton failed a fitness test on an ankle problem.
Deco fired inches wide following a probing Anelka run down the left as Chelsea came out in attacking mode after the break.
Porto responded as Ferreira withdrew Varela, giving Hulk half an hour to prove his worth and add to his two-goal tally in the competition.
Hulk – who won his first two Brazilian caps in their recent friendlies against England and Oman – put himself about but a late close-range drive was well smothered by Cech.
The home fans roused themselves for a belated cheer as Deco made way for Cole with minutes remaining.