Didier Drogba’s return to Stamford Bridge ended in defeat as Chelsea beat Galatasaray 2-0 in last night’s Champions League last-16 second leg to progress to the quarter-finals.
Eto’o (4), Cahill (42)
Chelsea won 3-1 on aggregate
Referee: F Brych (Ger)
Jose Mourinho warned of a dangerous tie poised 1-1 after the first leg in Istanbul three weeks ago but, four minutes into the second leg, his side regained the advantage before advancing into Friday’s last-eight draw with ease, 3-1 on aggregate.
Drogba, scorer of 157 goals in 341 appearances over eight years for the Blues, including the decisive penalty in the 2012 European Cup win, was expected to be the main protagonist of the contest. But it was another 30-something African striker who found the net with the first attack as the Ivorian faded into the background on the big occasion, with Eden Hazard the outstanding forward on display.
Samuel Eto’o showed his predatory instinct to fire the Blues in front at the end of a move started by Hazard and Gary Cahill added a second before the interval to give Chelsea a commanding two-goal advantage.
Chelsea were unable to add to their tally, but did not need to.
Roberto Mancini’s visitors were a distant second best throughout and offered up little resistance as the former Manchester City manager’s return to England ended in a limp loss.
Given Manchester United and Tottenham face two-goal deficits – tonight against Olympiakos in the Champions League and tomorrow at Benfica in the Europa League, respectively – it is possible Chelsea will be the only English club in Europe come Friday’s draws.
Their immediate attention now turns to Saturday’s Premier League showdown with Arsenal, where Mourinho’s leaders will hope to put their controversial loss at Aston Villa firmly in the past.
Drogba was presented with a silver boot by Chelsea for his achievements in blue, which ended with that magical night in Munich, and was acknowledged with the acclaim of all sides of the ground as both home and visiting supports sang his name.
He embraced Mourinho in the seconds before kick-off and lined up against a Chelsea XI showing two changes following the loss at Villa Park, with Eto’o and Frank Lampard in for Fernando Torres and Nemanja Matic, who was ineligible.
Eto’o, a Champions League winner with Barcelona and Mourinho’s Inter Milan, justified his inclusion with his tenth goal of the season after beating the offside trap to latch on to Oscar’s pass and convert with a shot which squirmed under Fernando Muslera’s right hand.
Hazard and Eto’o combined to set up a chance for Willian, who could only weakly direct the ball straight at Muslera, but soon Chelsea had their second. Terry’s header from a corner was saved, with Cahill following up to thrash the ball into the net.
Chelsea set about trying to add to their lead and went close in the opening skirmishes of the second period. Oscar was unable to test Muslera after a mesmerising Hazard run before the Galatasaray goalkeeper saved from Willian and Oscar then shot wide.
Lampard headed straight at Muslera as Chelsea continued to search for a third, but the game eventually petered out as Chelsea went through comfortably.