Chelsea all but sealed their place in the next round with a ruthlessly impressive Champions League display on a plastic pitch in freezing Moscow.
Russian Yuri Zhirkov scored his first goal for the Blues with a spectacular long-range effort in the 23rd minute.
Nicholas Anelka then slotted a superb second just before half-time.
Spartak pressed after the break, but Chelsea – without Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard – stood strong in Carlo Ancelotti’s 100th Champions League tie.
The Italian’s vast experience in Europe’s premier club competition is the chief reason Chelsea employed him as manager last year – and convincing displays like this offer compelling evidence that he can repeat the Champions League success he achieved with AC Milan.
Chelsea now tops group F with three wins in three games, and a point from their next three games will guarantee qualification for the second round.
For the west Londoners, a trip back to the cavernous Luzhniki Stadium meant returning to the scene of their greatest disappointment – Manchester United defeated them in painful fashion after a penalty shoot-out in the 2008 Champions League final.
With the mercury touching freezing amid a virtual full-house of nearly 80,000 fans cheering Russia’s best-supported club on boisterously, some teams might have found it an intimidating environment.
But Chelsea, full of nous and understated confidence, made light work of a team who had won both of their previous group F matches.
Fourth in the Russian League table, Spartak did make a strong start as Dmitri Kamborov slashed just over after a brilliant surging run from Sergei Parshivlyuk sliced through Chelsea’s backtracking rearguard.
Brazilian striker Welliton – the Russian league’s top goalscorer – then swivelled in the box under close attention from Branislav Ivanovic to force a neat reaction stop from Petr Cech, who kicked the ball away from his near post.
But Chelsea soon got their foot on the ball to dominate a team quite clearly missing their playmaker and captain Alex.
A couple of decent long-range shots from Soloman Kalou and Michael Essien should have served as a warning, but Spartak’s failure to shut down space on the edge of the box proved costly in the 23rd minute.
John Mikel Obi pumped the ball long and, with the ball bouncing invitingly from a loose Spartak header, former CSKA Moscow player Yuri Zhirkov sprinted towards it to lash a looping volley high into the net above Andriy Dykan’s desperate dive.
With Anelka leading the line superbly in the absence of Drogba while his midfielders dominated their territory behind him, Chelsea eventually managed to quieten the incredible din from the stands.
With the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich watching, Essien’s cross was deflected away from danger just after the half-hour as Spartak struggled to make an impact with Welliton stranded alone in attack.
After squandering a good chance when one-on-one with Dykan, classy Anelka brilliantly notched his 50th goal for Chelsea – and his fourth in three Champions League games this season – just before half-time.
Essien rampaged through the heart of Spartak’s midfield before slipping a neat pass inside the channel his French team-mate was lurking in.
Anelka then accelerated forward before turning back inside the hosts captain Parshivlyuk with ease, confidently curling his classy low right-footed shot into the far corner.
Admirably refusing to give in, Spartak came out on the attack in the second half.
Kombarov, Welliton and Aiden McGeady all fired shots towards Cech’s goal, the Czech having to push the former Celtic winger’s effort over the bar after a vicious deflection.
Chelsea did manage the odd surge with Anelka the outlet – but Cech proved their busiest and most important player as Moscow pinged pacy passes together and pressed: two solid saves from Ibson around the hour mark clearly stung the hands of the visitors keeper.
Essien screwed a good chance wide in the 72nd minute after Kalou, soon replaced by young midfield hopeful Josh McEachran, had pulled the ball back with cool accuracy from the bye-line.
John Terry had not trained properly ahead of the match, but with him in typically defiant form, Spartak could not find a way though the determined wall of blue – and a determined Chelsea made plain their lofty Champions League intentions.
Athletics: Okagbare Begins Preparation For Tokyo 2020
Blessing Okagbare, yesterday started her preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the National Trials.
The opening day of the Tokyo 2020 National Trials will see Okagbare competing in the 100m against highly rated Grace Nwokocha
Okagbare, the 8th time national champions is the favourite to win the event again, but Grace Nwokocha remains one of her biggest threats.
The American-based track queen won the championship from 2009 to 2014 and returned to win the 2016 edition after missing out in 2015.
Despite her qualification for the Olympics, Okagbare will be hoping to continue her winning streak and go to the Olympics in high spirits.
Apart from the 100m finals expected to take place in the afternoon, there will be shotput men final with all eyes on Chukwuebuka Enekwechi.
LAA Holds Lucrative Track Meet, Next Week
The Lagos State Athletics Association has announced it would be holding a lucrative Athletics Meet on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli, who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship, made the disclosure on Wednes-day even as he revealed that arrangements were in top gear to have an elite cast of athletes in the one-day meet.
According to Alli, the Lagos Open Athletics Championship will simultaneously serve as a qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
“This is another fantastic window for those seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as well as those seeking quality competition to stay in shape for the Olympics,” Alli said.
“The Lagos State Athletics Association, which is one of the most vibrant in the country, is out to organise a world-class event that would be the talk of the town as we count down to Tokyo,” he added.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship include, the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters and 100 meters.
There would also be quality action in the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as 4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been pencilled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Champion-ship.
Organisers have assured that the top three finishers across all the events will receive handsome prizes for their efforts.
S’ Falcons Bow To World Champions
The Super Falcons of Nigeria lost 2-0 to world champions, USA, in their final Group game at the 2021 Summer Series in Texas, USA.
The result means the African champions failed to win any of their three matches at the invitational tourna-ment, drawing one and losing the other two.
Kristen Press gave the Americans the lead on the stroke of half time, and before Lyn Williams killed Falcons hope of getting a draw with the second goal on the dot of 90 minutes.
With the victory, the world number one has now gone 42 games without tasting a defeat .As for the Falcons, the aim of participating in the Summer Series was to prepare them for a crucial 2022 African Women’s Champion-ship eliminator against perennial rivals, Ghana in October.
The African Women’s Championship will serve as qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
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