Parker Off The Mark As Chelsea Win (Sky Sports)
Portsmouth 0 Chelsea 2
Richard Jolly reports
You get what you pay for. Chelsea reaped their first dividend from the investment of 10 million of the Abramovich millions in Scott Parker as his goal to set them on their way to a win at Portsmouth.
Harry Redknapp's eventful January brought him seven signings and an ample collection of air miles but Claudio Ranieri's solitary signing from the same city volleyed Chelsea ahead at Fratton Park.
For one percent of the Parker fee, Redknapp acquired Lomano LuaLua and his substitute almost levelled before a rather more expensive striker, 16.8 million Hernan Crespo, killed off Portsmouth's challenge.
Adrian Mutu, who was replaced by Crespo, supplied the pass for Parker to open his Chelsea account in his second game. Portsmouth, so energetic elsewhere, were slow to close down the midfielder and he had time to pick his spot.
It capped a positive start from Chelsea. Redknapp's attacking formation was leaving right back Linvoy Primus isolated as Wayne Bridge, subject of the Pompey taunts, and Jesper Gronkjaer were providing a series of teasing crosses from the Chelsea left.
Frank Lampard had rifled the ball into the Portsmouth net in the first minute, though referee Graham Poll had already penalised Parker, and Gronkjaer twice turned his numerical advantage on his flank into shots which had Shaka Hislop scrambling across his goal. And after Parker's strike, the intricate passing of Mutu, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Lampard almost opened up Portsmouth.
Portsmouth responded. The bludgeoning Ivica Mornar was fighting a physical battle with John Terry and his team-mates buzzed around him in support. An initially unpromising solo run from Patrik Berger culminated in the Czech whipping a shot against the bottom of Neil Sullivan's post
However, for all of Eyal Berkovic's swift passing and probing, slack play from Chelsea provided Portsmouth's clearest opening. Neil Sullivan's awful clearance fell to Yakubu Ayegbeni, whose aim was equally askew as he blazed over; both acquitted themselves better on the stroke of half time when the diving Sullivan turned away Yakubu's fierce volley.
It was a typical performance from the Nigerian, a persistent threat but a rare scorer. He headed a Berkovic corner wide and so, too, did LuaLua, on for the injured Berger.
LuaLua, Portsmouth's second striker to arrive out of Africa recently, fired a rising shot over and then the Fratton Park faithful claimed a penalty when Berkovic's free kick flicked off Lampard's arm.
And Chelsea, after an excellent opening 20 minutes, were muted if resilient. Isolated examples of quality were outnumbered by the solidity of Terry, Lampard and Claude Makelele.
Gudjohnsen and the ever excellent Lampard exchanged passes in a fluent move would have culminated in a second for the midfielder but for Shaka Hislop's block.
Ranieri's unhappiness with his strikers manifested itself in two changes and his second-string emerged with a goal and an assist. Further proof of the improvement in Lampard's long passing game as his perfectly-weighted ball released Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The replacement's first-time lob bounced off the bar and Crespo nonchalantly chested in.
Hislop, De Zeeuv, Pasanen, Primus, Stefanovic, Berger
(LuaLua 56), Berkovic (Taylor 84), Faye, Quashie, Mornar, Yakubu
Subs Not Used Wapenaar, Curtis, Hughes
Gallas, Melchiot, Terry, Gronkjaer, Lampard, Makelele, Parker (Cole 74),
Gudjohnsen (Hasselbaink 71), Mutu (Crespo 62)
Subs Not Used Ambrosio, Huth
Booked Parker, Crespo
Goals Parker (17), Crespo (79)