Chelsea reached the Champions League knockout phase as Didier Drogba inspired them to the win they required against Valencia at Stamford Bridge.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas took the bold decision to drop the vastly experienced Frank Lampard for a game that could have shaped the Blues boss's future - then saw another of Stamford Bridge's old guard prove the catalyst to confirm a place in the last 16 as Group E winners.
Drogba, who has been linked with a move as he holds out for a two-year contract, was in irresistible mood and terrorised Valencia throughout, scoring a goal in each half as Chelsea ran out emphatic winners, putting the Spanish side out of the competition in the process.
The Ivorian also played his part in Chelsea's second with a run of trademark power and purpose midway through the first half to set up Ramires, a goal which came just as Valencia threatened to work their way back into the game.
Chelsea's win and progress from the group stage was a rich reward for Villas-Boas's bravery in leaving out Lampard, completing a satisfactory few days for the 34-year-old Portuguese after a vital Premier League win at Newcastle United on Saturday.
Villas-Boas has been under the spotlight following Chelsea's recent struggles, but a measure of calm and stability can now be restored as they play for the familiar territory of the later stages of the Champions League.
Lampard remained an unused substitute but Chelsea's win more than justified Villas-Boas's decision to hand midfield responsibility to Ramires, Raul Meireles and impressive youngster Oriol Romeu.
For all the debate about Lampard, his absence was irrelevant in the opening exchanges as Drogba used all his physical presence to prey on Valencia's weaknesses.
He took only three minutes to settle the nerves around a noisy Stamford Bridge, taking advantage of good work by Valencia old boy Juan Mata to roll a left-foot finish beyond Diego Alves.
Valencia's response was robust and positive. Jordi Alba rattled the outside of an upright before David Albelda's long-range effort was splendidly clawed away by the diving Petr Cech.
As Valencia threatened to force their way back into contention, Drogba was again the driving force as Chelsea increased their lead after 22 minutes. He surged through the heart of Valencia's rearguard to play in Ramires, but it still took inept defending from Victor Ruiz to allow the Brazilian to steal in and poke his shot past Diego Alves.
Daniel Sturridge's pace was causing problems on right flank and twice either side of the interval he created chances but saw his efforts blocked at the near post.
Valencia signalled that they still posed a danger as Cech again saved well from Sofiane Feghouli's angled shot - which prompted Villas-Boas to make a change, sending on Jon Obi Mikel for Ramires.
It was not a decision that was universally acclaimed around Stamford Bridge, with Lampard receiving a warm ovation as he warmed up at the same time.
Drogba, inevitably, was the man who upped the tempo to ease any lingering concerns, first firing narrowly wide before running on to another astute Mata pass to score with 14 minutes left.
He was then replaced to a standing ovation as Villas-Boas gave Fernando Torres a run-out as the closing stages turned into little more than a formality.
- 01 Cech
- 02 Ivanovic
- 03 Cole
- 04 David Luiz
- 26 Terry
- 06 Romeu Booked
- 07 Ramires (Mikel - 65' )
- 16 Meireles
- 10 Mata (Malouda - 83' )
- 11 Drogba (Torres - 77' )
- 23 Sturridge
- 22 Turnbull
- 19 Ferreira
- 08 Lampard
- 12 Mikel
- 15 Malouda
- 09 Torres
- 21 Kalou
- 01 Diego Alves
- 04 Rami
- 12 Barragan
- 17 Alba (Aduriz - 54' )
- 18 Ruiz
- 22 Mathieu
- 06 Albelda
- 08 Feghouli (Pablo - 64' )
- 24 Facundo Costa Booked (Parejo - 76' )
- 07 Oliveira
- 09 Soldado
- 13 Guaita
- 15 Angel Dealbert
- 05 Topal
- 19 Pablo
- 21 Parejo
- 11 Aduriz
- 14 Piatti
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +2:48
A cross is delivered by Florent Malouda, clearance made by Hernandez Pablo.90:00 +0:56
Antonio Barragan delivers the ball.90:00 +0:42
Branislav Ivanovic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Oliveira Jonas. Direct free kick taken by David Albelda.89:09
Effort from outside the penalty box by Daniel Sturridge goes wide left of the goal.88:00
Aritz Aduriz fouled by Mikel, the ref awards a free kick. Antonio Barragan takes the direct free kick.87:17
Roberto Soldado challenges Raul Meireles unfairly and gives away a free kick. David Luiz takes the free kick.85:54
Branislav Ivanovic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aritz Aduriz. Direct free kick taken by Jeremy Mathieu.82:36 Substitution
Substitution (Chelsea) makes a substitution, with Florent Malouda coming on for Juan Mata.80:35
Hernandez Pablo takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.80:04
Centre by Antonio Barragan, Petr Cech makes a save.79:41
The ball is sent over by Hernandez Pablo, Aritz Aduriz takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.79:03
David Luiz has an effort at goal from a long way out that goes wide of the right-hand upright.76:47 Substitution
Substitution Fernando Torres on for Didier Drogba.75:48 Substitution
Substitution Dani Parejo on for Facundo Tino Costa.75:10
The assist for the goal came from Juan Mata.75:10 Goal scored
Goal! - Didier Drogba - Chelsea 3 - 0 Valencia Didier Drogba scores a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 3-0 Valencia.72:43
Facundo Tino Costa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Raul Meireles. Juan Mata crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, David Albelda makes a clearance.72:00
Didier Drogba produces a right-footed shot from close in which goes wide of the left-hand upright.71:34
Jeremy Mathieu delivers the ball, Mikel gets a block in.
Antonio Barragan sends in a cross.69:24
Didier Drogba concedes a free kick for a foul on Torre Victor Ruiz. Carreira Diego Alves takes the direct free kick.68:26
Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.68:26 Booking
Booking Booking for Facundo Tino Costa for unsporting behaviour.68:19
Juan Mata fouled by Facundo Tino Costa, the ref awards a free kick.67:49
Antonio Barragan takes the direct free kick.67:49 Booking
Booking Oriol Romeu is cautioned.67:37
Oriol Romeu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hernandez Pablo.64:30 Substitution
Substitution Ramires goes off and Mikel comes on.63:56 Substitution
Substitution Hernandez Pablo comes on in place of Sofiane Feghouli.63:18
Corner taken left-footed by Sofiane Feghouli.62:58
Corner taken left-footed by Facundo Tino Costa from the right by-line, clearance by Juan Mata.62:44
Sofiane Feghouli has a drilled shot. Save made by Petr Cech.62:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Facundo Tino Costa on Branislav Ivanovic. Petr Cech takes the free kick.61:42
Facundo Tino Costa takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Branislav Ivanovic.61:30
Antonio Barragan sends in a cross, save by Petr Cech.59:30
Corner taken by Facundo Tino Costa played to the near post, clearance by Didier Drogba.58:45
The ball is crossed by Jeremy Mathieu, Ramires manages to make a clearance.58:08
The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Torre Victor Ruiz.57:28
Facundo Tino Costa concedes a free kick for a foul on Raul Meireles. Oriol Romeu takes the direct free kick.56:59
Shot by Sofiane Feghouli from just outside the area goes over the net.56:34
Ashley Cole is adjudged to have handled the ball. Facundo Tino Costa crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Petr Cech.55:14
Antonio Barragan delivers the ball, Petr Cech makes a save.53:58 Substitution
Substitution Ramos Jordi Alba goes off and Aritz Aduriz comes on.53:13
Daniel Sturridge takes a shot. Save by Carreira Diego Alves.52:37
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Facundo Tino Costa played to the near post, clearance by John Terry.52:26
Facundo Tino Costa takes a shot. Blocked by Ramires.51:53
The ball is delivered by Jeremy Mathieu, John Terry makes a clearance.47:41
David Albelda challenges Daniel Sturridge unfairly and gives away a free kick. Didier Drogba has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.47:01
Foul by Sofiane Feghouli on David Luiz, free kick awarded. David Luiz takes the direct free kick.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +0:10 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.44:35
Sofiane Feghouli challenges Ashley Cole unfairly and gives away a free kick. John Terry takes the free kick.43:48
Adil Rami produces a right-footed shot from long range that goes over the bar.42:45
The ball is crossed by Antonio Barragan, clearance made by David Luiz.40:25
Free kick awarded for a foul by Juan Mata on Roberto Soldado. David Albelda takes the free kick.39:53
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Juan Mata, clearance made by David Albelda.39:05
Adil Rami sends in a cross, Branislav Ivanovic manages to make a clearance.38:20
Corner crossed in by Facundo Tino Costa, Raul Meireles manages to make a clearance.38:14
Antonio Barragan crosses the ball, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.36:38
The ball is swung over by Antonio Barragan, clearance made by John Terry.33:25
Antonio Barragan crosses the ball, Branislav Ivanovic makes a clearance.31:46
Facundo Tino Costa crosses the ball, save by Petr Cech.31:07
Free kick awarded for a foul by Branislav Ivanovic on Jeremy Mathieu. Facundo Tino Costa takes the free kick.30:11
Facundo Tino Costa has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide left of the goal.29:21
Raul Meireles has an effort at goal from outside the penalty area missing to the wide left of the goal.27:48
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata from the right by-line, clearance by Facundo Tino Costa.27:36
Daniel Sturridge takes a shot. Save by Carreira Diego Alves.25:44
Outswinging corner taken by Facundo Tino Costa from the left by-line played to the near post, Oriol Romeu makes a clearance.24:37
The official flags Ramos Jordi Alba offside. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.23:10
Shot by Sofiane Feghouli. Save made by Petr Cech.22:33
The ball is swung over by Antonio Barragan, John Terry manages to make a clearance.21:11
Assist by Didier Drogba.21:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Ramires - Chelsea 2 - 0 Valencia Ramires finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Chelsea 2-0 Valencia.20:57
The ball is delivered by Sofiane Feghouli, clearance by John Terry.19:27
A cross is delivered by Roberto Soldado, clearance by Ashley Cole.18:53
Raul Meireles fouled by Sofiane Feghouli, the ref awards a free kick. Ashley Cole restarts play with the free kick.18:18
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata, Adil Rami makes a clearance.17:12
Foul by Facundo Tino Costa on Raul Meireles, free kick awarded. Juan Mata produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick.17:01
The ball is crossed by Didier Drogba, Adil Rami makes a clearance.15:51
Daniel Sturridge delivers the ball, clearance made by Antonio Barragan.13:48
Foul by David Albelda on Ramires, free kick awarded. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Didier Drogba.9:30
Facundo Tino Costa takes the outswinging corner, clearance by Didier Drogba.9:18
David Albelda takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.9:06
The ball is delivered by Jeremy Mathieu, John Terry makes a clearance.6:56
Antonio Barragan crosses the ball, save made by Petr Cech.4:39
Ramos Jordi Alba has an effort at goal from just inside the area that bounces off the post.2:46
Assist by Juan Mata.2:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Didier Drogba - Chelsea 1 - 0 Valencia Didier Drogba gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-0 Valencia.2:42
Juan Mata produces a cross,1:37
Shot by Raul Meireles from 25 yards. Save made by Carreira Diego Alves.0:00
The game gets underway.
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