With a Champions League outing in France today for 2019's Chelsea, club historian Rick Glanvill looks back to another visit there by our 2004 vintage, and it was a game that went well!
Fifteen years ago this month in France the Champions League was still quite a novelty to Chelsea. The Blues had finished second in the Premier League under newly-departed boss Claudio Ranieri, and entered the group stage without playing a qualifying round for the first time.
New head coach Jose Mourinho, though, had won the title the previous season with Porto, and his personal defence of it would start in the ‘city of lights’, Paris, on 14 September 2004. There was nothing brilliant about the cagey start in front of 40,000 at the Parc des Princes, and Vahid Halilhodzic’s so far winless Paris Saint-Germain team looked more like visitors on hostile territory.
The only element that really stirred the Parisian crowd was the presence of Didier Drogba, who had joined Chelsea from PSG’s great rivals from the south, Marseille, in the summer. From the outset the Ivorian’s name and his every touch were ferociously jeered. That did not escape the attention of the striker, who had lost three times to the capital club the previous season.
It was the Blues’ skipper who drew first blood, however. Around the half-hour mark PSG ’keeper Lionel Letizi overreached for a Frank Lampard corner and John Terry exacted maximum punishment with a header into the open goal from six yards.
Then just before the stadium was engulfed in deafening half-time whistling, Mateza Kezman (an early replacement for injured Eidur Gudjohnsen) broke clear onto Joe Cole’s measured pass and saw his one-on-one shot saved. Who else but Drogba followed up with a bumping finish to make it 2-0.
Responding to the crowd’s treatment of him, he cupped both ears in front of the home stands, then turned and pointed to the name on his back with both thumbs. To add further injury to insult, a quarter-hour before the end Chelsea’s no.15 chipped a free-kick over the home wall into the net to complete a comfortable 3-0 victory.
While the media were intent on putting the spotlight on Drogba’s celebration and wondered whether it might incur a ban, his coach played the matter down: ‘It was a fantastic game,’ Mourinho responded. ‘Didier was man of the match, and UEFA ought to give him an award for being fantastic.’
Deviating from the script, though, Drogba admitted: ‘I did wind them up but they wound me up a bit as well, didn’t they?’
In the event, UEFA took no action as none of the officials mentioned the incident in their match reports.
Click for more about classic Chelsea Champions League Years