Nicolas Anelka fired two first-half goals to put Chelsea on the way to a comfortable 4-1 victory over MSK Zilina and then revealed the meaning of his ’handcuff’ goal celebration.
Anelka set up Michael Essien’s 13th-minute opener before scoring twice himself after 24 and 28 minutes as Chelsea cruised to victory in Slovakia.
Daniel Sturridge scored his first Champions League goal three minutes after the interval before Zilina’s Tomas Oravec netted a consolation for the home side.
Anelka, banned by the French Football Federation for 18 games because of his part in the World Cup mutiny, was hailed as the “key” to Chelsea’s victory by coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The 31-year-old has since insisted he will never play for his country again but admitted his gesture was aimed at the French authorities and he knows other France players will understand.
“It was just something for the French Federation about what happened at the World Cup,” said Anelka.
“What happened in summer is in the past, now I’m 100% focused for Chelsea.”
When asked if he would ever consider playing for France again, he replied: “No, never. It was just a joke about what happened. I’m not angry.”
Anelka’s movement in attack in the absence of the suspended Didier Drogba was pivotal, according to a satisfied Ancelotti.
“The key was Anelka, he played a fantastic game,” said the Italian. “He created space, he had opportunities, he was the key for this game.
“He can play the position in front, sometimes we use him more wide, sometimes he plays in the middle but he shows the same skills if he plays wide.”
Although Oravec’s goal was the result of Petr Cech failing to catch a cross, Ancelotti was happy with the defensive performance.
“Every game in the Champions League is hard to play,” added Ancelotti. “We started very well in the first half, we played fantastic football, the second half was different.
“Zilina put more pressure on our defence. The back four did a good match. ”When you are 3-0 up it’s normal to have more difficulty.
“I think that Petr could do better with the goal we conceded but we faced a lot of crosses. We had to put more pressure on the wide side. Defensively the back four had a good game.
“I hope to watch my team and play a fantastic game for 90 minutes. Obviously I was a player I know sometimes there are difficult times, the opponent can come back in the game.
“If I have to judge the performance I am very happy because it’s not easy to win 4-1 away in the Champions League.
“I am happy Sturridge scored but he has to improve his positioning, I would like him to play more in-field rather than out wide. He showed fantastic movement to score, I am happy with his performance.”
Goalscorer Sturridge was delighted, saying: “I’ve been dreaming of that since I was a young boy.
“I’m delighted to get off the mark in the Champions League and hopefully there’s many more to come.
“There’s a lot of world-class players in this team. I’m delighted to be part of things.”
Zilina coach Pavel Hapel was surprised by the scoreline and said the only difference between the two sides was Chelsea’s clinical finishing.
“I am not disappointed with the game,” said Hapel. “We played well and attacked Chelsea. We managed to score so it was okay.
“We kept up with Chelsea as much as we could but I am disappointed with the productivity. The score was a surprise.
“We didn’t show the same productivity in front of goal as Chelsea did.”