Blues ease through Group E
Written By: Robert Halter
It had come down to the final game of Group E as only a goalless draw or a win for Chelsea would suffice to guarantee automatic qualification for the Blues to the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League as match day six saw the visit of Spanish side Valencia to Stamford Bridge. The Blues took control of the game from the beginning when Diego Alves pulled off a save in the opening minute to keep out an effort from Raul Meireles, after Didier Drogba had supplied the pass. It was in fact Drogba that got Chelsea off to a dream start as early as the third minute, after Daniel Sturridge crossed deep to former Valencia player Juan Mata, who supplied the pass to his Chelsea team mate Drogba, who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner for a vital Blues goal. But Chelsea had a lucky escape on five minutes as from inside the box, Jordi Alba crashed his shot against the left post which prevented a certain equaliser. Valencia kept up the pressure four minute later, after club captain David Albelda unleashed a long range strike that Petr Cech kept out at full stretch, as he turned the ball around the left post. However it was Chelsea that increased their advantage midway through the first half, after Drogba’s pass put Ramires clean through who strolled past Victor Ruiz and with just Alves to beat, Ramires slid the ball in between his legs into the heart of the goal. Valencia tried to respond within two minutes of conceding a second goal but Sofiane Feghouli’s shot was caught in the air by Cech, with the ball drifting away from the target. A Drogba free kick three minutes into the second half sailed wide as the Blues tried to close the game out. Five minutes later, Chelsea pushed forward again with Oriol Romeu starting the move before a close range shot by Sturridge was kept out by Alves’s legs at his near post. Cech was called into action again on fifty seven minutes, after he palmed away Tino Costa’s free kick to safety. This was followed by a tip over by Cech as he put Antonio Barragan’s dipping cross over the bar, in the sixty first minute. Within a minute, Cech was forced into a full length save to divert Feghouli’s shot inside the penalty box as Valencia threatened to score. On seventy two minutes, Sturridge presented Drogba with a chance but after battling his way into the area, Drogba was unable to execute the finish as he flashed his shot across the face of the goal. But within four minutes, Drogba was on the score sheet again to seal victory as Mata again supplied the ball through and with just Alves in his way, Drogba slotted the ball past him to put Chelsea three nil up. It was too late for Valencia, despite Cech pulling off a save in the eightieth minute to keep out Aritz Aduriz’s header from Barragan’s cross. This was swiftly followed by a strike from Pablo Hernandez which Cech saved. A pitch invasion by two fans temporarily interrupted proceedings but the night belonged to Chelsea and their allegiance of supporters as the Blues finished top of their group following the victory over Valencia, while Bayer Leverkusen finished runners up after their 1-1 draw in KRC Genk.