Chelsea through after Drogba’s double

Chelsea 3 Valencia 0

Didier Drogba netted two of Chelsea’s goals as they secured an emphatic victory that took them into the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Drogba set the Blues on their way with a neat, low finish after great work by the ever-impressive Juan Mata and rounded off the win in the second half from a perfectly weighted Mata pass.

In between, Ramires grabbed the second goal after a powerful surge from that man Drogba.

And although no one could argue the hosts deserved their third consecutive 3-0 win the measured, disciplined approach was more reminiscent of Chelsea under Jose Mourinho and subsequent managers than the all-out attacking philosophy adopted by Andre Villas-Boas.

Chelsea were entitled to feel nervous, knowing they had to win to be certain of maintaining their record of qualifying for the latter stages of Europe’s premier competition.

As it transpired, Bayer Leverkusen’s failure to beat Genk meant the Blues went through as Group E winners.

But they did not need any help from elsewhere to secure their progress after making the most of a dream start at Stamford Bridge.

It was a rejuvenated Drogba who settled the nerves inside three minutes, notching the club’s quickest goal in their Champions League history.

Branislav Ivanovic tore down the right and fed Daniel Sturridge, whose searching far-post cross found its way to Drogba following some great footwork by Mata.

The Ivorian then showed wonderful composure to fire low into the far corner via the hand of keeper Diego Alves.

Raul Meireles, preferred in central midfield to Frank Lampard, had already seen an 18-yard curling effort saved after being teed up by Sturridge and Drogba.

And although the midfield trio of Meireles, Ramires and Oriol Romeu gave Chelsea a more solid look, they opted to defend much deeper and were also forced to sit back for large parts of the game.

After Drogba’s opener, Valencia almost levelled immediately when Jordi Alba crashed a shot against the post from a tight angle from wide on the left.

The visitors pinned Chelsea back with a brand of energetic, pressing football which has become a trademark of the top Spanish sides.

David Albelda forced a brilliant, acrobatic save from Petr Cech and they looked threatening despite being restricted to long-range efforts on goal.

But Chelsea stayed compact and posed a serious danger on the break, and they grabbed a second on 21 minutes.

Drogba showed great skill inside his own half and carried the ball forward 50 yards. And although the big striker’s pass to Ramires was a poor one, Valencia defender Victor Ruiz dithered and the Brazilian nipped in to slot home.

The second home goal enabled Chelsea to continue to sit back and soak up pressure, safe in the knowledge any victory would be good enough.

And they did just that with the minimum of trouble.

Cech was forced to punch clear a vicious free-kick and also had to make fine diving stops to keep out efforts from Sofiane Feghouli and Pablo Hernandez.

But the Londoners still had the better chances.

Sturridge fired straight at Diego Alvez after another swift breakaway before Drogba outmuscled Ruiz and shot agonisingly wide of the far post.

And Drogba then made the match safe – and ensured Chelsea’s progress – when he nonchalantly flicked the ball home after Mata capitalised on some sloppy midfield play by Valencia.

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