Chelsea continued their impressive run in the Champions League, winning all three points and extending the unbeaten run in the group stages of the Champions League to 22 matches, spanning over 7 years.
After a goalless first-half, which lacked in quality and cutting edge, Chelsea came out roaring after the break with the impressive Anelka opening the scoring for the Blues, before a Drogba penalty and a brace by Ivanovic sealed it, although the Moscow side did get a late consolation through Bazhenov.
On paper this sounded like a tricky fixture and with Liverpool awaiting Carlo’s men on Saturday, the Blues could have been excused for taking things lightly. But, as we have seen previously this season this group of players don’t necessarily need to be at their best to get the job done.
John Terry was rested for the game with Didier Drogba, who returned to Chelsea’s European squad after missing out previously due to suspension and injury, captaining the side. Florent Malouda and Michael Essien were also missing due to minor injuries as Carlo Ancelotti rotated his team. Spartak also saw the return of their influential captain, Alex, as they looked for some inspiration at the Bridge.
The game started in a cagey manner as both sides failed to get any kind of control on the game. Chelsea had the better of the possession but lacked the cutting edge and fluency to cause any real trouble.
Nicloas Anelka created the first opening for the Blues, as he cut in from the left and skipped past two Spartak defenders before unleashing a curler which went just inches away. Despite the good start, Didier Drogba remained the only Chelsea player who forced a save from the keeper in the first half.
On the other hand, Valeri Karpin’s men looked to play on the counter, but the Chelsea defence stood strong and avoided any sort of constant pressure. McGeady and Kombarov, who were restricted to taking shots from distance, were not able to trouble Cech with their respective shots.
As Chelsea went it to the break, it was clear that they needed a spark and urgency to break down this Moscow side, and so was the case when Carlo Ancelotti’s men came out in the second half.
The Blues were in a determined mood and were soon rewarded for this, as the influential Anelka opened the scoring. The Frenchmen received the ball on the right and played in Kalou, before making a diagonal run behind the defenders, and the Ivorian played an intelligent ball back to set him through on goal, as he put the ball in the net from a tight angle.
The goal was supposed to spur the Russian side on; instead it was the home side that looked to have found some of their momentum, as they soon made it 2-0 after Makeev brought down Drogba in the box. Our captain on the night picked himself up and then put the ball into back of the net with a powerful low shot.
Spartak side were still thinking about the magnitude of their task ahead, when it just got even bigger. Kalou was fouled on the edge of the box on the right resulting in a free-kick for the Blues. Drogba‘s delightful box in the box found Ivanovic, who managed to evade his marker before nodding in the third goal. Incidentally, this was his first goal at Stamford Bridge.
Carlo substituted his two star strikers to standing ovation from the Chelsea faithful and Roman Abramovich, as Sturridge and Kakuta came on to join Josh McEachran, who had earlier came on in place of Mikel.
Chelsea still had chances to increase their lead further but Kalou and Ramires missed their chances when it was easier to score. Sturridge was unlucky not to get on the score sheet after he slipped and his header went wide from 2 yards out.
Bazhenov grabbed a consolation for the Russian side and broke Petr Cech’s record of not conceding for 956 minutes at Stamford Bridge, before Ivanovic scored his second on the night with a neat finish which even Didier would have been proud of.
Chelsea have now qualified for the knockout stages with two games to go and just need another point to confirm the top spot in the group.
Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the progression to the next round and after the game, he said; “We played very well, it was just the 15 minutes in the first half that was not so good but in the second half we were fantastic.”
“Our aim was to qualify and that’s what we’ve done and now we want to arrive in first place and we have two matches left and we want to do our best.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira, Alex, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires, Mikel (McEachran 68), Zhirkov; Kalou, Drogba (c) (Sturridge 75), Anelka (Kakuta 75).
Scorers Anelka 48, Drogba 61 pen, Ivanovic 65, 90+1.