Wednesday 22 November 2017

Wasteful Chelsea cruise through

Chelsea 0
FC Copenhagen 0
(Agg: 2-0)
Champions League Last 16, 2nd leg

Substitute Fernando Torres replaces Nicolas Anelka as Chelsea booked their place in the last eight of the Champions League at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Reuters
Substitute Fernando Torres replaces Nicolas Anelka as Chelsea booked their place in the last eight of the Champions League at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Reuters

Henry Winter

Chelsea were so in charge of this tie, so enjoying the comfort blanket of their two goals from the away leg, that by the end their main ambition seemed to be to set up Fernando Torres for a debut goal.

The Bridge all chorused "shoot" when Torres ventured into the final third. The Spaniard had started on the bench, allowing Nicolas Anelka and particularly Didier Drogba to catch the eye. Drogba, barring a wretched shot late on, looked more the heavyweight force of old.

Chelsea await a goal from Torres, though, and it was noticeable how Frank Lampard eschewed a late chance to score to pass to Torres instead. Chelsea's No 9 failed to exploit his team-mate's largesse yet this was a case of mission accomplished.

It was hardly a daunting challenge as Copenhagen lacked the brightness of their shirts. With the minimum of fuss, Chelsea progressed into tomorrow's draw where they could meet the Premier League's other representatives, Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur, or any of Barcelona, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Schalke and Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho back at the Bridge? That would be special.

Copenhagen had come closest to scoring in an entertaining first half, Dame N'Doye striking the post, but Chelsea were largely in control. Some of the passing moves conjured up by Carlo Ancelotti's players were terrific, lacking only the finish.

With Torres starting on the bench, apparently to keep him fresh to face Manchester City on Sunday, Drogba and Anelka were models of industry, and occasional invention in Chelsea's attack. With Ramires and Yuri Zhirkov out wide, Chelsea were 4-4-2.

Clearly determined to embellish the 2-0 first-leg advantage, Chelsea poured forward in numbers. The first attack set the tone. After Ashley Cole and Zhirkov combined well, Drogba back-heeled the ball back to Cole. The England full-back promptly teed up Zhirkov, who dragged his shot wide.

Gliding

No matter. Chelsea kept venturing upfield, often with Zhirkov prominent. The Russian soon collected a fine crossfield pass from Ramires, such an improved figure of late. Zhirkov delayed the release of the ball until Anelka was gliding behind the Danes' defence.

The timing was perfect all round. Anelka continued down the inside-left channel and flicked out his right foot, attempting to steer the ball around Johan Wiland. Copenhagen's excellent goalkeeper saved well. Not for the last time.

Yet it was Petr Cech who had the biggest alarm of the first half. When John Terry caught N'Doye 25 yards out, the Senegalese striker took the free-kick himself. His shot cleared the wall and curved left as Cech headed the other way. Wrongfooted, Chelsea's keeper was relieved to see N'Doye's effort crash against the post.

The Danish champions, resplendent in their pink garb, enjoyed 55 pc of possession in the first period, yet Chelsea had most of the better chances. The half finished with Drogba demanding a good save from Wiland.

Having managed 10 shots in the first 45 minutes, Chelsea continued to be profligate as the second period unfolded. Drogba side-footed wide from a superb Jose Bosingwa cross.

Then a game of head tennis saw the ball carry from Terry to Anelka to John Obi Mikel, whose effort clipped the top of the bar.

Drogba then played a magnificent pass, releasing Anelka down the inside-right channel. The Frenchman decided against shooting early, allowing Mikael Antonsson to make an excellent sliding block. A few sighs of frustration rolled around the Bridge.

Drogba was then cautioned for a challenge on Martin Vingaard. All the while, Torres was warming up vigorously, his stretching exercises royally followed by the Chelsea fans.

And then came the £50m man. Torres was given 25 minutes against a tiring defence as Anelka trooped off. Torres was clearly desperate to score. When poor control from Mathias Zanka Jorgensen gifted the ball to the striker, the substitute had only one intention and that was shooting. His shot eventually deflected wide.

Torres began to find his stride, playing slightly deeper than Drogba, suddenly showing all that old pace to destroy Copenhagen's back-line, but he still couldn't beat Wiland. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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