Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea a winning start to its Champions League campaign by clinching a 1-0 victory over Porto in the Group D opener.

On a rain-soaked Stamford Bridge pitch, the France forward struck three minutes into the second half to see off the Portuguese champions on an unimpressive night for Chelsea.

Porto had Fernando sent off for a second booking after a sliding challenging on Ashley Cole in stoppage time.

Given the goal-scoring opportunities presented to the Blues, Carlo Ancelotti’s first European match in charge of the London club should have produced a greater margin of victory.

Ancelotti, a two-time European Cup winner as both a player and a coach, has been hired to deliver the one trophy that continues to elude Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Champions League football returned to the London ground for the first time since a last-minute Barcelona goal kept Chelsea out of May’s final.

The effects of that hot-tempered night were still being felt as Ancelotti was denied the services of both Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, who were serving UEFA suspensions as punishment for their post-match outbursts.

Drogba, who will miss another two Champions League games, was sorely missed as Chelsea squandered a succession of chances and lacked the cutting edge to comfortably collect three points.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard came close twice inside seven minutes, seeing one shot pushed wide by Helton and a free header blocked a point-blank range.

There was an early scare when Chelsea captain John Terry - voted the competition’s best defender last year - went down after Bruno Alves’ elbow crashed into his face while as they went for an aerial ball.

Alves escaped punishment, but two Chelsea players were booked by referee Konrad Plautz: Michael Essien for a sliding challenge on Hulk and Florent Malouda for fouling Fredy Guarin.

With Joe Cole recovering from a knee injury and yet to make his first appearance since January, Chelsea lacked the width to overwhelm the visitors.

Porto’s main threat came from Hulk, who had a 25-metre (yard) strike blocked by Petr Cech’s knees. From the resulting corner, Cristian Rodriguez headed over. Fredy Guarin and Raul Meireles also tried to beat Cech with their heads.

Chelsea came out sharper in the second half. Within three minutes of the restart Salomon Kalou fed Anelka, whose initial shot was parried by Helton, but blasted in the rebound from a tight angle.

A second goal should have came minutes later, when Ashley Cole provided an inviting cross that Florent Malouda could only head into the side netting. Helton, though, pulled off a superb save to keep out a flash header from Kalou.

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