âLondon: Premier League Chelsea exposed a gulf in class when they defeated French champions Olympique Marseille 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday.
Chelsea's superiority was so great in a one-sided Group F match, especially in the first half, that the match was over as a contest long before halftime even though they failed to add to John Terry's and Nicolas Anelka's goals scored inside the first 28 minutes.
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Marseille manager Didier Deschamps, a former Chelsea favourite and an FA Cup winner with the Blues in 2000, marvelled at Chelsea's performance afterwards, saying he believed they were one of the favourites to win this season's competition, despite a recent mini-slump domestically.
"We were dominated both physically and technically, there was a huge gulf in class between the two sides," Deschamps told reporters.
"Chelsea had a very effective first half and we lacked a bit of aggression. Although we did better in the second half, you have to say they could easily have scored a third.
"I am a realist. We came here full of ambition, and full of hope, and despite the fact they had some of their main players missing they were still full of internationals.
"We were vastly inferior in the first half at least and Chelsea remain one of the favourites to be champions of Europe. They were so solid and efficient."
Marseille could have done with the kind of industrious midfield graft that Deschamps was famous for in his pomp.
Instead, their midfield was overrun by Chelsea's with Michael Essien the dominant force, helping Chelsea to take a stranglehold on the game after Terry scored with a deft flick from a Gael Kakuta corner after seven minutes.
They effectively sealed the points when Anelka scored with a 28th-minute penalty.
Underpinning every attack was an inspired Florent Malouda, who tormented the Marseille defence with his jinking runs and invention. French youngster Kakuta also terrorised his compatriots with a glittering performance on the other flank.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, happy for his side to avoid a third successive defeat after losses to Newcastle United and Manchester City in the past week, was delighted.
"It was an important result after those two defeats, which we can now forget about," he told reporters.
"Now we have six points, we are top of the group and have a good chance of finishing first.
"But it was not an easy game because I think Marseille played well and created a lot of chances.
"The second half was difficult, we played well defensively but could do better in possession, but we had a lot of chances in the second half. We hit the post twice. It was a good game."
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Despite missing Didier Drogba, suspended against his former club, and the injured Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou, Chelsea could have had an even more emphatic victory as both Alex and Essien hit the post with long-range efforts in the second half.
Anelka, booed by the French fans still clearly miffed at his antics at the World Cup when he was sent home early from South Africa, stroked his penalty past stranded goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Ancelotti saw nothing wrong with Anelka's almost casual stroll up to the spot.
"He was not concerned by the French fans booing him. He is always calm, always peaceful and the main thing was -- he scored."