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Chelsea using PK loss as motivation

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

Was it really just four months ago that John Terry made the costliest slip of his life, as Chelsea's Champions League dreams crashed around it and blue tears of anguish spilled onto the sodden Moscow turf?

Time might be a healer, but new Blues coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will be keen to make sure the wounds of that penalty shootout defeat to Manchester United last May do not close too quickly.

The clinical performance displayed by Chelsea on the opening match day of the UEFA Champions League group stage was the product of a team that is hurt and hungry.

By contemptuously swatting aside French side Bordeaux 4-0, the west London club proved there will be no hangover from one of the most painful defeats in its history.

Scolari left fans scratching their heads this week by claiming every trophy Chelsea is competing for, including the Carling Cup, has equal importance. However, you can guarantee his billionaire Russian owner sees things differently.

Roman Abramovich covets the Champions League title more than any other trophy. He has done so ever since he swept into English football in 2003 and started throwing roubles in every direction.

Avram Grant went agonizingly close to the elusive prize, yet paid for the Champions League final defeat with his job.

Maybe something was lost in translation when Scolari was appointed. More likely, he is just being Scolari and playing the sort of mind games with his opponents, the media and the public that he relishes so much.

No doubt Chelsea will have secretly taken pleasure in United's inability to make a similarly flying start. The defending champions looked a little toothless and sometimes lacked ideas against a Villarreal side that defended superbly.

As for Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo's impending return to 100 percent fitness should provide a boost, yet Sir Alex Ferguson will have some worries about the form of Gary Neville and Jonny Evans.

Overall, there is no major cause for concern in the United camp. Group E is weak, and both United and Villarreal should have too much firepower for rivals Celtic and Aalborg.

Yet while United looked like a group of players striving hard to make things work, Chelsea carried an air of imperious arrogance. Chelsea was not just looking for dominance, they expected it.

Which is just as well, because so does Abramovich.

CINDERELLA STORIES

As money madness continues to exert its inexorable grip over the soccer world, the potential for fairytales diminishes.

Yet even in the Champions League – haven for the biggest, best, and wealthiest teams in Europe – there still seems to be room for some soccer romance.

CFR Cluj, the Romanian champions, sprung an almighty shock just by qualifying for the competition. But instead of being overawed by its first appearance in the group stage, the club from Transylvania secured a dramatic victory against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, coming from behind to win 2-1.

It is all a far cry from six years ago, when the team was playing in front of a handful of spectators in the Romanian third division. Suddenly, surprisingly, democracy seems to have crept into a tournament which has for years been the preserve of the favored elite.

Fellow newcomers Anorthosis Famagusta, the league champion of Cyprus, managed an impressive 0-0 away draw with Werder Bremen. BATE Borisov, a Belarus team made up of local youngsters and a handful of cheap Russian imports, was not disgraced in losing 2-0 to Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu.

The established order at the top of European soccer is not going to change any time soon, but the fresh faces are a welcome addition and have already earned themselves great credit.

MAN OF THE MATCHES

Juan Culio, CFR Cluj – The Argentinean midfielder's two goals earned Cluj an upset away win against Roma.