Berekum Chelsea FC of Ghana began their Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) Champions League campaign on a good note with a hard fought 3-2 victory over Zamalek Football Club of Egypt in their opening group game at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
Though a sweet victory, Chelsea had to come back from a goal deficit on two occasions before finding the winner, during time-added on to snatch the vital three points at stake to send the partisan nationalistic home fans into wild jubilation.
In a close contest which saw the two sides battling for supremacy in every department of the game, it was the visitors who benefited from a sloppy defence from Chelsea to fetch the first goal through Burkina Faso import Abdoulaye Cisse Cisse in the 20th minute.
The joy of the visitors however lasted for only seven minutes as the Premier League goal-king, Emmanuel Clottey?s free-kick hit the goal post in the 25th minute with no one to connect the rebound but the striker made no mistake the second time by connecting home a swift cross from Solomon Asante in the 27th minute to put his side at level stage.
Zamalek again benefited from another poor defensive play by Chelsea following Prince Anokye?s indecision in the 32nd minute that allowed Ahmed Fathy El Samea to race past him to lay an incisive cross that granted Cisse Cisses another opportunity to put his side ahead in the game for the second time.
Chelsea seemed not to have learnt any lesson from their sloppy defensive system build around Richard Kissi, Prince Anokye, Edward Kpodo and Ahmed Adams and nearly gifted the visitors another opportunity for a third goal before close of first half, but Islam Awad Ismaeel Al Morsy had his goal bound shot blocked to save the Ghanaians from a humiliating first half loss whilst Asante?s attempt at finding the equalizer in the 42nd minute was blown off.
The Ghanaians returned to the second half with a much more improved style of play and quickly scored the equalizer in the 46th minute through Clottey who sneaked into the opponents defence,when he pounced on a through pass from Jordan Opoku on the run and went past the Egyptian goalie before slotting in the much needed equalizer to the joy of the supporters.
Chelsea gradually improved on their game as the match progressed and adopted quick and accurate passes but were unable to penetrate the defence of the experienced North Africans.
The introduction of Ibrahim Issaka and Mohammed Musa for Moro Awudu and Asante however added more strength to the attack of Chelsea as they kept the area of their opponents busy any time they attacked with the visitors who seemed to be tired barely able to contain them.
This nearly paid off for Chelsea in 83rd minute when Issaka picked a well measured pass from Clottey but he surprisingly misdirected it off target.
The Ghanaians, though sluggish in their build up on some occasions, were cheered on by the fans and a number of supporters unions, put in a last minute effort with three minutes of time added on, when Glad Awako laid a pass on the path of Issaka whose quick cross across the goal area was easily but quickly connected by Clottey to send the sizeable crowd into a state frenzy at the stadium to signal the effort the Berekum lads.
Chelsea with just a minute to go ensured they defended their lead well to put them in a good position to top the table after the other group match slated for Sunday.