Chelsea progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with an aggregate 2-0 victory over FC København, after the second leg finished in a dour 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.
The match started brightly enough with Chelsea dominating the possession and creating all the early chances, but Copenhagen were gritty and kept plugging away, denying Chelsea, who were themselves guilty of wasting chances, the chance to put the match to bed.
Carlo Ancelotti continued to rotate his side around as Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic returned to the starting line-up, along with the returning Obi Mikel, who has been missing in action since the FA Cup game against Everton due to a knee-injury.
FC København played the same system that they employed in Parken Stadium, playing two banks of four, with Gronkjaer and N’doye up top in their classic system where Gronkjaer plays as a false number nine and N’doye roaming behind him.
Copenhagen played a very high defensive line which led to a lot of offsides for the Blues, but also gave us the opportunity to get in behind their defence, which we managed to do quite often as well.
Chelsea’s full backs were instrumental in all the build-up early on as we tried to get the first goal of the night. The build-up on the left hand side of the park was particularly impressive with Zhirkov and Cole combining very well.
Yuri Zhirkov in particular was in the thick of things early on and was causing the most trouble to the FC København defence with his perfectly-timed passes. Nicolas Anelka could have put Chelsea ahead with one of these passes, but his first-time shot was saved by Wiland’s fingertips.
Despite dominating the possession, Chelsea were fortunate not to be behind when N’doye’s free kick came off the post, with Petr Cech well-beaten.
The second half started much like the first, with Chelsea playing the possession game and Copenhagen happy to defend, with their front- line hardly getting a look-in in the game. Obi Mikel hit the bar early on in the half from an Ivanovic head on from a corner, the closest we would go to getting the goal.
On a day when it felt like the result was of secondary importance to them, København fans continued to be in good voice throughout the game. On the contrary, Chelsea fans were in less than their usual numbers, owing to the club’s pricing policy which kept some of the fans away.
Nicolas Anelka, whose indecisiveness in front of the goal from kept him from continuing his scoring record in this season’s Champions League, had a decent game and was clearly not happy when his number came up in the second half as Carlo Ancelotti introduced his star striker, Fernando Torres, to get the goal required to seal the tie.
Chelsea continued to pour forward and creating chances, but lacked the finesse required to convert those chances.
Florent Malouda and Michael Essien came on late at the end in place of the impressive departing duo of Yuri Zhirkov and Obi Mikel.
Yuri Zhirkov was creative going forward, combining well with Cole, but also made his share of trackbacks as well. While Obi Mikel provided the protection for the back four that we have been missing in his absence.
Next up for Carlo Ancelotti’s men is Manchester City in the league, who will provide a much more sterner test than København and will require improved performance from us to get the job done and overtake them into third place.
Carlo Ancelotti was satisfied with his team’s progression to the next stage, he said; “I think that we played a good game, we were focused and avoided risk and maintained a good control of the game.”
“We had a lot of opportunities to score, we were unlucky I think. We did not need to score tonight.”
“It is important to create the situation and we created a lot of opportunities this evening. I am happy because apart from that it was good, the players showed a good attitude on the pitch.”
“We wanted to move on from the last 16 and now we are in the quarter-final. I want to remind you that at this same time last year we were crying and now we are to be happy.”
“I see that the team is fresh and in good condition and I want to rotate the players because all the players deserve to play and this is a good reason to do this.”
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Mikel (Essien 83), Lampard, Zhirkov (Malouda 75); Anelka (Torres 67), Drogba.