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Chelsea 0-0 FC Copenhagen (Chelsea win 2-0 on agg) | Champions League match report

Chelsea's progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League had so low a profile that it verged on invisibility. With the tie beyond Copenhagen after the 2-0 defeat at home, the Danish side came to Stamford Bridge determined to make off with whatever credit was still attainable from the tie. In the latter part of the second half they were even striving to win the match.

In truth they lacked the means to do that but Chelsea's finishing was so vague that it took the introduction of Fernando Torres from the bench to call upon Johan Wiland for a save of note. Most of the crowd of 36,454 had to be tolerant at least, with only the visiting supporters discovering any kind of pleasure in the fixture.

It may gnaw at Chelsea that it took Torres to raise hopes but the other forwards also showed quality, even when it vanished once they were in sight of the posts. There was effort despite the fact that a place in the last eight was, to all intents and purposes, Chelsea's before the sides even emerged from the dressing room.

It was typical of Copenhagen's attitude that, for instance, Oscar Wendt should pull off a tackle on Nicolas Anelka when the Frenchman seemed to have gone clear moments from half-time. The French striker differed from his team-mates by being a little sharper but Wiland saved a mediocre shot when he went through in the 21st minute.

The visitors had to retreat eventually but are to be saluted for opening as if all their hopes were intact. Even their manager, Stale Solbakken, looked frantic throughout. Without such spirit Copenhagen would not have got this far in the tournament. It must have been galling, too, that they had gone into the first game with Chelsea while lacking competitive match practice because of a mid-season break. Their more recent exertions enlivened them here.

Carlo Ancelotti's side, for their part, have begun to feel better about themselves, with improvement witnessed in the Premier League. While reconstruction is in progress, Torres was marginalised and David Luiz is ineligible. The old guard were therefore presented with an opportunity to illustrate their continuing relevance.

Copenhagen had a keen appetite of their own and came close to a goal in the first half when Dame N'Doye hit the post with a free-kick after 26 minutes. There had, all the same, been gusto from Chelsea and Didier Drogba, perhaps eager to emphasise his status as a centre-forward while Torres sat on the bench, was keen to link with Anelka.

It was Drogba who released Ashley Cole in the eighth minute, only for the left-back to fire into the side netting. The Ivorian then adopted a more direct approach with a 30-yarder that called for a save by Wiland. Yuri Zhirkov, starting a second consecutive match while Florent Malouda pays the price for a loss of form, might have put Chelsea ahead but missed the target after being set up by Drogba and Cole.

Copenhagen's desire to compete was laudable and accusations of complacency were not to be levelled against Ancelotti's side. If anything, they were enlivened by the keenness of the visitors. Chelsea's fault was leniency. Mikel John Obi hit the bar with a header following an Anelka flick. The trait was almost wilful at times, with Anelka appearing to go through on the right only to double back and invite a challenge in the 50th minute. Before that Drogba had not been able to convert José Bosingwa's low cross at the far post.

Copenhagen, for their part, were as determined at the least to leave this stadium feeling proud of themselves. Indeed, the desire to score had increased as the second half developed. That wish to attack should, in principle, have offered scope to their opponents but Chelsea's reaction was largely one of exasperation.

The crowd was tetchy. If Copenhagen's adventurousness was not irritating enough they had to study a move between Ramires and Frank Lampard that came to no more than an aimless ball from the Englishman that ran off-target. The introduction of Torres for Anelka at least awakened enthusiasm in an exasperating game.

The outcome did not matter in itself while Copenhagen were failing to score but it would have been happier for the crowd and the players if there had been a further demonstration that Chelsea are on the rise. Even so, a berth in the quarter-finals does carry status.

There is also the pragmatic consideration that Manchester City, one of their rivals for a top-four place in the Premier League, arrive at this stadium on Sunday. Torres was being allowed some rest for that fixture and the match will also have weighed on the starting XI against Copenhagen.


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Chelsea v FC Copenhagen – as it happened! | Champions League | Rob Bagchi

Chelsea wasted a hatful of chances but rarely looked troubled by FC Copenhagen in a 0-0 draw that takes them into the Champions League quarter-finals 2-0 on aggregate

Evening all: Let's kick off with the teams:
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Zhirkov, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Torres, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou, McEachran.

FC Copenhagen: Wiland, Wendt, Jorgensen, Antonsson, Bengtsson, Bolanos, Claudemir, Kvist, Vingaard, Gronkjaer, Ndoye.
Subs: Christensen, Bergvold, Santin, Kristensen, Zohore, Hooiveld, Delaney.

Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)

Preamble: There's a strong sense of tumbleweed blowing across Stamford Bridge tonight as everyone seems to think Chelsea's hold on this tie is unassailable. FC Copenhagen have played two matches since their home leg three weeks ago, their first league games since early December, and the rust showed in a victory over AAB which succeeded a defeat by FC Midtjylland. Jesper Gronkjaer returns to Chelsea tonight, scene of some exasperating displays for Claudio Ranieri's Blues and the odd stellar one. Chelsea rest Fernando Torres, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien, giving John Obi Mikel another opportunity to dispel the impression that he's been a huge disappointment this season (and the rest, some would say). For Copenhagen Mikale Antonsson has overcome a buttock strain to take his place at the back. Craig Smaaskjaer points out: "Norwegian ref? Nothing can go wrong now." Ah, Ovrebo! Surely not again tonight?

That picture of Carlo Ancelotti: More proctologist than Wacko, I'd say. Eric Patterson has a different take: "So looking at the photo is Carlo telling us he's going with the old 4-4-2 again? Even without Andriy Shevtorres?" I think Zhirkov may play wide in a three or a trident as a few self-important analysts described it a few years ago. Torres needs a pre-season I'd argue before we go down the Sheva route.

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen: Salty old queen of the sea. Gave Danny Kaye his only UK top 10 hit. Other trivia: Frank Lampard is celebrating his 10th year at Chelsea on ITV as the Liquidator plays in the background. He says he wants Chelsea to be disliked again. Not sure about the "again" for most of tonight's correspondents.

Out they come: Copenhagen in vibrant pink shirts. Shocking pink I think you'd accurately call it in every sense. Evening Jason Graff: "Re Carlo's pic: I fear what he's indicating is the best we can finish at any level should we get knocked out of this competition. It also represents the number of near heart attacks Chelsea have given me over the course of the season. Let's not make it five tonight!" Can't see it, Jason.

1 min: Copenhagen kick off after a few hobbledehoys shouted during the minute's silence for Japan. Lampard tries to play a quick, cute ball to Bosingwa behind the Danes' defence but the right-back jumped the gun and was offside.

3 mins:Cole makes a good break up the left, combines with Zhirkov and plays a nice pass to the front post where Lampard can't adjust his feet quick enough and turns the ball wide. Julian Menz says: "Copenhagen's strip makes Palermo look manly. I'm interested to see how many crosses Gronkjaer sends into the upper reaches of the Harding. When he played for us we learned to duck."

5 mins: Hell's teeth. It's be careful of what you write time as everything drips with symbolism (see Paul Doyle on the No26 on the other MBM). William Marzouk writes: "Ha, you locked it for Copenhagen when you said "trident". Chelsea can't play a trident because the trident is the weapon of Poseidon who of course is the protector of Copenhagen's port. So Chelsea will lose." Sorry, Blues fans. Copenhagen, meanwhile, pass the ball from left to right and back again across midfield but Gronkjaer's ball is hit too early and Chelsea catch them offside.

7 mins: Copenhagen get a free kick on the edge of the box after Bosingwa takes Vingaard's legs after a fine, direct run from the FCC midfielder. Claudemir smacks it straight into the wall from 20 yards out.

9 mins: Cole smashes the ball into the side-netting after a glorious one-two with Drogba who hit a beautiful return pass, casual as you like. As Cole powered into the box, Anelka peeled off to the back post but Cole thwacked it instead. FCC break and win a corner but Chelsea clear easily.

12 mins: Paulo Padilha is taking my brain places it doesn't want to go: "Carlo Ancelotti, proctology student: A friend once explained to me that medical students first practice basic procedures on the person who is teaching them, and this includes the standard proctology exams. I'm guessing Ancelotti learned most of his coaching in his final years as a player at Milan under Arrigo Sacchi, so why don't you go ahead and try to erase from your mind the image of that blue glove examining Arrigo for the first time..." Drogba shoots from 30 yards having worked himself an opening in the centre of the field with good footwork. But he doesn't connect properly and can't get the power.

13 mins: Sorry for inflicting that image on you. Wendt tries to get Bolanos free on the right behind Cole who's been bombing forward whenever Chelsea have the ball but he overhits it sloppily and it goes out for a Chelsea throw.

15 mins: Copenhagen fans in fine voice. N'Doye and Bolanos team up well but Chelsea's back four keep their shape and Terry steps out to rob N'Doye of possession. "I want Chelsea to lose (I hadn't been aware that they were ever liked either) so they'll sack Ancelotti (idiotically, but predictably)," writes Lou Roper, "and he can take over at Roma." Lampard plays a pass from the edge of the D to Anelka after Anelka's initial shot was blocked but he's called offside. he wasn't and would have had a clear shot at goal.

17 mins: Zhirkov has wandered in from the touchline and is linking up with Lampard, Drogba breaking left as they try to work the Copenhagen defence out of position. Clever movement from Chelsea so far going forward and Cole looks like their most potent, ahem, weapon.

19 mins: Glorious move from Chelsea, again up the left, Zhirkov to Cole, who cut inside, played a one-two with Drogba, got the ball back and dinked it back to Zhirkov who had to stretch to shoot and fell over while hitting the ball and dragged it wide of Wiland's left post. Anthony O'Connell puts his cards on the table re Torres: "Firstly I'm a Liverpool fan. Right, Torres, in May it will have been two seasons of being fairly mediocre. This season he's been as bad as he was last season. In fairness the lad needs to not kick a ball or run from seasons end to the start of next season. Since joining Liverpool he had one excellent season then the Euros, then another good season then the concaf, then a poor season and World Cup then this season." Holiday, then?

21 mins: Another excellent move through Zhirkov who pinged a fine pass after a 20-yard run in off the touchline, unopposed, with the outside of his left foot that split Wendt and Jorgensen to play in Anelka on the right of the six-yard box. Anelka tried to dink it over the keeper but the keeper kept his torso upright as he dived forward and blocked it well.

24 mins: I haven't seen Zhirkov play as well as this. Wendt is a left-back by trade but Zhirkov is skinning him on the inside which shouldn't be Wendt's weaker side.

26 mins: Copenhagen free kick 25 yards out after N'Doye was brought down. He took it himself from a central position and curls it powerfully on to Cech's right post with the keeper moving the other way then stopping, knowing he was beaten. Bosingwa clears for a corner. Nothing comes of it.

26 mins: Norm! "Copenhagen's Wendt isn't the same actor famous for playing Norm on Cheers is he? If so, impressive versatility," chuckles Trent Smither. It is he, married to the fierce Vera.

28 mins: Mikel wins a free kick inside Copenhagen's half when Kvist fouls him twice with a kick and a shirt tug but they take it too quickly, trying to work Anelka free on the left and Wendt closes him down.

31 mins: Another Chelsea attack down the left, begun by Lampard's 30-yard pass to Anelka who has swapped positions with Zhirkov. Anelka runs straight at Wendt, looks to have beaten him, then slams a left-foot shot straight at Jorgensen. Then Zhirkov has a chance on the right when Drogba plays him in inside the box. Again his shot is misdirected. "A 'glorious move by Chelsea' (19min) comes to nothing, whilst an 'excellent move' (22mins) also comes to nothing," writes Brian Rafferty. "You will run out of hyperbolic adjectives by the time you get to commentating on an Arsenal fixture." Point taken. But I am enjoying Chelsea's attacking movement tonight. Not that they're up against Inter or anything but still it has confounded my expectations of a frill-free "get the job done as painlessly as possible" victory.

35 mins: Now Copenhagen are enjoying some possession, trying to find N'Doye who has been their best player, until Claudemir tries to beat two defenders with a pass and it's cut out. Back come Chelsea with Bosingwa who crosses to Drogba. He tries to lay it off with his head to Lampard but Copenhagen get a free-kick. Hand ball, I think.

38 mins: Anelka, free by the right corner flag after a 20-yard burst, curls his cross straight into Wiland's hands.

41 mins: Drogba strays offside again when Zhirkov's cross came in. Copenhagen then try to see if Bosingwa can defend, waeving moves around him with Vingaard, Kvist and Bengtsson. The final ball, though, is weak and picked off by Ivanovic. "Are Chelsea going to become the third English side to proceed to the QF's solely because their opponents made such a pig's ear of their home leg?" suggests Kevin Porter. "Talking of porcine matters are FCK's shirts actually Peppa Pig pink?" Precisely Peppa, Kevin. Just as her cheeks are as she's about to jump into a muddy puddle

43 mins: Mikel chips a decent pass over Antonsson and Bengtsson and Anelka races on to it but Wiland sprints out and Bengtsson recovers to support him and they block his effort.

44 mins: Copenhagen free kick after Mikel's foul. Too far at 40 yards for a shot and Vingaard makes a mess of it and doesn't clear Chelsea's first line. The home side then break with Ivanovic up to Drogba who turns and shoots with his left from just outside the box but again it's a weak effort.

Half time: Good match so far. I'll be back in 10 minutes. Linda Howard writes on the subject of mojos, lost and found: "What is it with strikers suffering from the ever-dramatic ailment of 'lack of confidence' that they incessantly pop the ball straight at the 'keeper? Is it the sight of open arms? They feel subconsciously beckoned to the comfort of a hug?" These symbols are everywhere tonight, Linda. Do you think Didier needs an arm around him from Carlo? If he does, it may be a blue one, thinks Paul Taylor: "Actually, as we can't see Ancelotti's other hand in the picture, it is equally plausible that that person's skin really IS blue, and that he is wearing a mask to cover his face. In which case, we can't be sure that person really is Ancelotti. I think he is a Danish ringer brought in to sabotage Chelsea, in case they can't do it themselves." Let's get this right, Paul. Are you suggesting they've dressed a Smurf in BBC pundit regulation all black and stuck him on the touchline at the Bridge? Peter Frawley is not impressed by the Copenhagen chorus: "My perception of the Copenhagen fans is dipping all the time. First the heckling during the minutes silence for the tsunami victims of Japan and now they are chanting the 'Great Escape' theme with an "FC' replacing "England" at the end. I mean where is the originality in that, never mind the missing dignity."

46 mins: Chelsea kick off and then Copenhagen try to open them up on the left with Bengtsson clipping a 30-yard pass that Ramires nods out. They try a Scud throw but there's no menace in it and it floats into Cech's hands.

48 mins: Very good cross from Bosingwa, ten yards out of the box, curled towards the left side of the six-yard box, straight to Drogba who shanks it wide.

49 mins: Chelsea throw on halfway. Bosingwa to Ramires, then Bosingwa storms through the middle to Ramires who taps it to Zhirkov and then gest it back first time to shoot from 30 yards but he scuffs it along the ground and Wiland dives to his left and picks it up with ease.

51 mins: Then Chelsea waste two excellent chances, the first when Anelka nips behind the Copenhagen defence and though Bengtsson gets back, he still has a chance to shoot but cuts back, turns then shoots with his left and it's blocked and goes out for a corner. Lampard puts it on Terry's head, he spins his header towards Anelka who backheads it to Mikel who heads it on to the bar from two yards.

53 mins: I've never written a sentence with the word "head" in it so often before, apart from when writing about Shack. Apologies for that. Drogba is penalised and yellow carded for a sliding challenge in the centre circle.

55 mins:I've just retrieved David Tiemroth from the spam filter: "My perception of the Chelsea fans is dipping all the time. First the heckling during the minutes silence for the tsunami victims of Japan and then they spent most of the first half ripping off John Cage's 4'33". Where's the originality in that?" Time for Harry Hill, I think.

57 mins: Claudemir crosses from the left into the area towards Gronkjaer who has nipped in front of Terry but it strikes him on the upper arm as he tries to control it on his chest and Chelsea get a free kick.

57 mins: Anelka cuts back from the byline on the left, aiming for Lampard but Copenghagen manage to clear, then N'Doye breaks up Chelsea's left and overhits his cross and it races out.

59 mins: Ramires shoots from 20 yards and balloons the ball over the bar. Mossy Egan writes: "Shack eh? Not heard them mentioned in years. HMS Fable was wonderful but nowt much since." Been back with the Pale Fountains, I think, Mossy.

61 mins: Copenhagen throw and the ref stops proceedings to have a word with N'Doye for trying to rough up Cech.

62 mins: Zohore comes on for Copenhagen, Bengtsson off.

64 mins:Chelsea have built four or five wonderful opportunities with some fine passing moves, the latest when Drogba dropped deep, spun a pass out to Zhirkov on the left and his cross just couldn't find Anelka. The build up play, though, has been a delight at times. Counts for nowt, of course.

66 mins: More over elaboration, though a shot would not have been easy as Antonsson closed Lampard down quickly. Lampard checked and crossed to the far post from bang down the middle but Kvist got there. Ian Copestake is here: "Didier does not need an arm around him. He needs to take advice from this Aussie comic and "Harden the f%&k up" [warning: contains angry words and is funny]."

68 mins: Torres on for Anelka.

68 mins: And he almost scores with a deflected shot after winning the knockdown from Cech's clearance. He darted down the left, cut inside and shot from 20 yards or so and the deflection helped it nearer the goal, but not near enough. Chelsea corner. Nothing comes of it again.

70 mins: Long pass over the top of the defence from Lampard but Wiland beats Drogba to the ball.

72 mins: Delay while Vingaard gets treatment for a jarred knee. He's going off. Santin comes on.

74 mins: Torres again makes progress down the inside left channel, waltzes a couple of yards then sprints past Jorgensen and hits his shot with the outside of his right foot across goal. Malouda on for Zhirkov.

76 mins: Cech raced out of goal to nick the ball off Bolanos's foot when Gronkjaer split Cole and Terry. They get the ball back from Cech's kick and storm up the right, N'Doye running 20 yards then wasting his shot when he should have crossed to Zohore.

78 mins: Drogba goes clear up the left and starts sprinting into the box but Jorgensen forces him wide and when he finally decides to cross, a bit late, Copenhagen knock it out for a corner. Terry then heads over.

80 mins: Justin Kavanagh has some statue therapy for Torres: "Nani has a life-size of himself in his Manchester home, and Fulham are installing a statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage. Maybe Mr Abramovich can ask his art-loving girlfriend to commission a diamond-encrusted replica of the statuesque Torres just to boost the Spaniard's confidence on his way in to work. Has he scored yet tonight?" Is the bear a catholic? Drogba free kick, easyily saved by Wiland.

81 mins: Bolanos is yellow carded for diving when challenged by Lampard. Simulation agogo. Chelsea corner taken by Drogba but it's as ineffective as Lampard's last two and Copenhagen break out.

83 mins: Slight chance for Zohore when Cole slips and Gronkjaer crosses to the substitute but his first touch is dire and he traps it farther than Xavi can kick it. Essien on for Mikel.

85 mins: "I also have a 'life-size' of myself at home. It's called a mirror," honks Herr Copestake. My fault. His email had 'statue' in the title field which I didn't print out of sheer spite.

86 mins: Ramires crosses from the right and can't beat the first man then when he gets the ball back he doesn't even look up and taps his pass to Bosingwa who's offside.

88 mins: "I'm sure there are others aside from me who are reading this and don't know what the aggregate score is," writes Ross. "Please inform us! It's not on your live feed anywhere…" Well … it's … Chelsea 2-0 FC Copenhagen. Santin shoots wide of Cech's right post.

89 mins: Comically bad shot from Drogba that flew 90 degrees wide of his target.

89 mins: Kristensen on for Copenhagen, who are still 2-0 down Ross, for Bolanos.

90mins: Ivan Griscti with news on Ian Copestake's video star: "The Aussie comic you provided a link to is actually a parody of convicted murderer and celebrity "chopper" Read. He became everyone's favorite criminal after being depicted by Eric Bana in the movie Chopper. He always maintained that he only ever murdered or hurt other criminals." I thought it was, Ivan.

90 mins + 1: It has been petering out for the past 10 minutes but just then Drogba and Torres almost worked an opening. They did win a corner though the ball looked to come off Drogba. Drogba took it and Lampard was held in the box and lost the challenge for the ball bit the referee didn't see it.

90 mins + 3: Torres flicks the ball back, again from his position in that inside left channel, to Essien who blasts his shot wide.

Full time: Chelsea 0-0 FC Copenhagen (Aggregate score Chelsea 2-0 FC Copenhagen) Chelsea go through and though they didn't score they did create plenty of opportunities for Anelka and Zhirkov in the first half and in the second Drogba and Torres carved out a couple of chances for themselves. Both Torres and Drogba like to play down the left so there was space on the right but Ramires didn't make the right passes when the ball came out to him there after half-time. Copenhagen were game, played some attractive football in short bursts but didn't seem to have the power to break Chelsea down or someone to make the runs in behind Bosingwa to open up the defence. More enjoyable than your run of the mill Champions League 0-0. The way they played won't have much bearing on the way they set up against a better side. Thanks for your emails. Good night.


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Champions League press reaction: ‘Copenhagen require a miracle’

• Danish media bemoan team's sharpness against Chelsea
• Karim Benzema lauded by Spanish press after draw at Lyon

Denmark's newspapers are stinging in their criticism of FC Copenhagen after the defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League, with Jesper Gronkjaer and Stale Solbakken the targets for particular anger, although the effects of the winter break were also offered as an explanation.

"The winter break was clearly present at Parken," writes the tabloid BT, "not just as a biting cold but also in terms of the players' lack of timing and sharpness. Before Christmas the Danish champions wowed and thrilled a nation with great games in the Champions League. Almost three months without significant matches reduced the proud Champions League lions to an ordinary Danish team."

Soren Olsen in Politiken continues the theme with a piece headlined: "There was frost in the Copenhagen engine." But Olsen also praises "iron man" Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry's defence. "There is no shame in losing to a better team," he writes. "FCK produced an excellent advert for Danish football with a superb Champions League campaign. But on 16 March they will be waving goodbye to European football while Chelsea continue in the quarter-finals."

The tabloid Ekstra Bladet also offered little hope for a comeback: "The result requires nothing less than a miracle at Stamford Bridge in three weeks for FCK to stay in club football's finest tournament."

The sporten.dk website is unequivocal in its post-match player ratings, giving Solbakken a two and Gronkjaer a zero ("Miserable on the left"). Nicolas Anelka, on the other hand, gets a 12 ("Two chances and two goals. Chelsea's most dangerous man") and Florent Malouda a 10, though Michael Essien comes in for some criticism ("Chelsea's weak point in the middle of the park").

Real Madrid's 1-1 draw against Lyon at Stade Gerland had the Spanish press fawning over the Real goalscorer Karim Benzema. "In the league Karim Benzema has scored the same goals as Ricardo Carvalho, " begins Marca. "But in Champions League he has five goals, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo, the top predator of the white jungle. With the small difference that he has played less than half the minutes of the Portuguese.

"In fact, Benzema is the most time-effective scorer in the Champions League, with a goal every 60 minutes, a rate that is better than Nicolas Anelka, Samuel Eto'o and Leo Messi to name only some of the big sharks of the continent."

AS is also suitably OTT, concentrating on the reaction of Real's president, Florentino Pérez. "Lyon's goal cannot distract us from an image that will compete with Gaddafi in the news in the world," the paper begins. "Florentino Pérez, a person who would accept the sting of a wasp with a sigh, is blasted with a goal from Benzema. The president, laughing and standing with arms aloft, allowing us to see parts never seen before: the passion, uncontrolled, the molars and armpits."

"Lyon remain unbeaten, but ..." is L'Equipe's headline. "This equaliser is expensive," writes David Michel. "It could be transformed into gold back at the Bernabéu."


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Champions League: Five things we learned from FC Copenhagen v Chelsea | Owen Gibson

John Terry's pre-match suggestion that the Champions League might provide respite to Chelsea was borne out

1 Change is as good as a rest

After looking tortured against Fulham in the Premier League and troubled against Everton in the FA Cup, John Terry's pre-match suggestion that European competition might provide his team with some respite appeared to be borne out. His "man-up" rallying cry sounded like a desperate attempt to rouse his team-mates to salvage something from an imploding season. But after this encouraging performance, it may be a turning point after all. A potential banana skin turned out to be the best possible tonic. Petr Cech barely had a save to make and while opponents in the Premier League have learned that the best way to unsettle a Chelsea side lacking in confidence is to hustle them into mistakes, the Danish team stood off and allowed them to stroke the ball around and regain at least a modicum of the fluency that has eluded them for most of the past few months. Carlo Ancelotti will be mindful, however, that all Chelsea's flickers of hope in recent months have come away from home (Sunderland and Bolton away) and it is at the once impregnable Stamford Bridge that they have repeatedly come unstuck.

2 Chelsea had one in-form striker

Six goals in his past nine games and seven in all in the Champions League for Nicolas Anelka. While Didier Drogba sulked on the bench and Fernando Torres was willing but still not able, Anelka dispatched his chances with finality. Not for the first time, he will have left supporters wondering how the peripheral figure who lazily missed his FA Cup penalty on Saturday tallied with the clinical finisher on display. It would be a pleasing irony for Ancelotti if, in trying to solve the puzzle of fitting Drogba and Torres into the same side, he restored Anelka's confidence.

3 Torres is flickering but not firing

By trusting his new signing ahead of Drogba, Ancelotti raised the stakes for the Spanish forward as he continued to search for an answer to the conundrum of how to fit him into a misfiring team. A week of intense fitness work looked to have left him looking sharper – outside the box at least. He played a couple of lovely passes to Anelka early on but still misfired when chances came his way. An early half-chance following a skewed Ramires shot was snaffled by the goalkeeper after a heavy first touch. On another couple of occasions Torres got clear of the last man but his touch let him down, as it often has in a Chelsea shirt. With nearly an hour gone, he again did well to fashion a chance but saw his shot saved. He was left on the pitch when Drogba came on for Anelka as the Chelsea manager willed a goal for his £50m man, but to no avail. Perhaps the only disappointment on an encouraging night for Chelsea was that Torres was unable to break his duck against such lacklustre opposition.

4 Maybe Chelsea can play 4-4-2

Having concluded that diamonds aren't forever after losing at home to Liverpool and trying a variation on the Christmas tree for a narrow draw at Craven Cottage that left the play looking disjointed, Ancelotti tried a 4-4-2 here that put the onus on Frank Lampard and Michael Essien to play a bit deeper. Despite looking lopsided on paper, with Ramires tucking in on one side and the misfiring Florent Malouda playing wider on the other, here they were given the room to play and found fluency in their passing for the first time in weeks.

5 Perhaps a winter break isn't needed

All those who habitually call for a winter break may like to ponder a recording of this match. This did not look like a team who are 19 points clear in their domestic league playing against one 12 points behind their leaders and supposedly suffering a crisis of confidence. Copenhagen's form in qualifying for the last 16 suggested a stern test – they drew at home to Barcelona and their only defeats were away at the Camp Nou and Rubin Kazan. Supposedly impregnable at home in the way their visitors used to be, the Danes looked rusty and nervous, particularly after the former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer gave the ball away for the opening goal. Their nervousness was further betrayed by the high line they played in defence, their habit of gifting possession to their opponents and the space they afforded Chelsea. They were marginally better in the second half, testing Cech from long range, but could not have been much worse.


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FC Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea | Champions League match report

Lost amid the tub-thumping rallying cry delivered by John Terry on the eve of this contest had been Carlo Ancelotti's reminder that Chelsea had "not died". This first-leg saunter in Denmark was nothing more than confirmation that the Champions League may yet breathe new life into the club's season. The Londoners have their respite.

They will not draw too many conclusions from a contest that appeared a mismatch once a lead had been established. But, where confidence had been so brittle after a sequence that had yielded only five wins in 16 and seen them jettisoned from the FA Cup and playing catch-up in the Premier League, hindsight would now suggest that a meeting with FC Copenhagen, who had been in competitive hibernation for more than two months, was a godsend.

The evening could hardly have gone better. While TottenhamHotspur were sinking at Blackpool back home, leaving Chelsea two points adrift of their rivals in the coveted fourth place with a game in hand, progress was being smoothed towards a quarter-final berth in Europe. Just as significantly, Ancelotti employed a system in which Fernando Torres and his team-mates seemed comfortable. Nicolas Anelka ended the evening as the Champions League's joint leading scorer for the campaign to date, level with Internazionale's Samuel Eto'o on seven, but Torres's rewards will also be forthcoming with performances such as this.

After Christmas trees and diamonds, this was more of a conventional 4-4-2 with Didier Drogba, absent from the pre-match warm-up as he underwent a rubdown in the warmth of the changing rooms, required for only the last 17 minutes, once the game had long since been won.

There was more width to enjoy down the left, where Florent Malouda stretched disconcerted opponents, and Ramires offered industry and energy tucked in slightly from the opposite flank. Chelsea have appeared awkward in recent weeks, attempting to shoehorn Torres into a variety of systems to squeeze form from their £50m signing. They may have stumbled upon a solution.

Better teams might have exploited the visitors' lack of a natural defensive midfielder, with gaps sometimes apparent between Frank Lampard and Michael Essien in the centre, but the Danes were too rusty to capitalise. Johan Wiland, alone of their players, appeared sharp, but the Swedish goalkeeper was horribly overworked and his reactions staved off a drubbing. He denied Torres a hat-trick, blocking at the Spaniard's feet twice in the first half and then pushing away a well-worked attempt with an outstretched hand after the break. When the goalkeeper was beaten, Oscar Wendt scrambled back to clear an effort from the line.

There was fluid movement and clever combination play to admire from Torres, as well as industry in tracking back to sniff out possession. He departed heartened, feeling as if he belonged, though Anelka's goals secured the victory. The Frenchman has rejoiced in the Champions League this term and he maintained outstanding form with two goals that left the locals numbed in a bitter sense of anticlimax.

Stale Solbakken's side had been preparing specifically for this contest since returning to training in early January, but were off the pace and out-muscled throughout. Not since Marseille won here a little over a year ago have their first-choice team been outclassed at Parken. At no stage did they threaten to snuff out Anelka's menace; the return fixture must now feel daunting.

The Frenchman had already been denied twice when Jesper Gronkjaer, a Chelsea player for four years until 2004, attempted to find Claudemir and merely presented Anelka with possession just inside the Danish side's half. The Frenchman was allowed to glide into the area unchallenged, Mikael Antonsson unable to muster a tackle, before finishing smartly beyond Wiland. "They were stronger than us and we made too many technical errors," said Solbakken,. Gronkjaer's misplaced pass was more basic.

The home side attempted to stir after the interval but Chelsea retained their bite on the break and a second goal reflected their true dominance. Lampard collected from Essien 54 minutes in and with the Danes anticipating a delivery for Torres, conjured a neat reverse pass to by-pass Antonsson and send Anelka through. The 31-year-old's finish was low and true, across Wiland and into the corner.

Ancelotti departed with the substantial travelling support chanting his name, prompting a polite wave and even the hint of a grin. Manchester United will test at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday whether the tide has truly turned but although a second leg of this tie awaits in three weeks' time, Chelsea will already feel as if the last eight beckons.


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FC Copenhagen v Chelsea – as it happened

"We have to man up," says John Terry. We have to man up. For goodness sake. Gotta love earnest macho banter!

He has a point, though. Chelsea's season is in grave danger of falling apart. They're out of the FA Cup, as good as out of the Premier League title race, currently not in position to qualify for next year's Champions League, and stand one disastrous performance away from yet another failed tilt at Europe's top prize. As Copenhagen gave Barcelona a good run for their money earlier in the season, the pressure will be on tonight, so as Terry says, it's time for Chelsea to man up. Sexxxxxx it up. Soap it up. Yes it is, yes it is.

FC Copenhagen: Wiland, Pospech, Jorgensen, Antonsson, Wendt, Bolanos, Kvist, Claudemir, Gronkjaer, Santin, Ndoye.
Subs: Christensen, Bengtsson, Kristensen, Zohore, Vingaard, Hooiveld, Delaney.

Sexxxxxxxchelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Drogba, Mikel, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Kalou, McEachran.

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Oldenzaal)

Kick off: 7.45pm.

The precise nature of JT's pre-match call to arms: a sober discussion. "Has JT turned into Dr Cox from Scrubs with his 'man-up' pep talk?" wonders Niall Mullen. "I imagine him collaring Torres with a 'hey Carol, why don't you stop moping around and start acting like you got a pair?'" Meanwhile Ian Copestake suggests Terry "may have kissed both his biceps during his man-up speech, while the rest of his fellow 'lady' players cowered around a shrine they've erected to Ray 'Butch' Wilkins to help them deal with the melancholy of it all." Let's face it, he could be taking any manner of approaches, couldn't he. It's 7.30pm now, and I like to think he's currently in the changing room belting out this number:

If that doesn't rouse the troops, I don't know what will.

Incidentally, apropos nothing other than the fact Chelsea are in Denmark tonight, an aside: anyone who missed Rob Smyth and Lars Eriksen's wonderful account of Danish Dynamite, the famous Denmark side of the mid 1980s, is strongly advised to catch up now. You won't regret it.

The atmosphere in Parken Stadion: It's really cooking. If very cold. On a clear night, it's four degrees centigrade below zero. The teams are out, Copenhagen in their all-white kit with blue trim, Chelsea in black and orange. "I cannot fully articulate how much I want to watch Scrubs as performed by Chelsea FC," writes Benjamin List. "Is Torres JD or Elliot? The blond hair is Elliot, but he seems delicate, like JD." Black and orange, though!

And we're off! Chelsea get the evening under way. They're on the front foot early doors: Torres wheechs down the right and stands the ball up to the far post, where Malouda shanks a terrible volley miles wide left and into the crowd. "If Chelsea are looking to 'man it up', why not start with a real man's accoutrement: dipping tobacco?" wonders Paul Szabo, who may or may not have a fully functional jaw and throat. "They could even 'snuff' the Danes with some Copenhagen, an American brand of dipping tobacco. It often causes the user to produce excess saliva while dipping. This is typically spat onto the ground; however, long-time users can swallow the tobacco-saliva with no ill effects. Enjoy!"

3 min: Lampard takes a pop from long range, after tucking in from the right. It's no use. But Chelsea will be pleased with the opening exchanges. "Niall Mullen and Ian Copestake are both wrong," writes the very perceptive Alex Hanton of our two hapless regulars. "Terry is far too manly to do something so effete as talking to his teammates about their problems. He's communicating with them purely through glaring, headbutts and furiously passive-aggressive DIY."

7 min: The first yellow card of the evening, as Zanka cynically runs into Torres as the striker chases a long ball from Cole down the inside-left channel. From the free kick, 40 yards out, the ball ends up at Torres's feet, eight yards out to the right of goal. Sadly for Chelsea, the £50m striker showcases that special first touch previously displayed at Fulham the other week, allowing Wiland to smother at his feet.

10 min: A lot of possession football by Chelsea. Copenhagen chasing shadows. Cole is released into the area down the left by a smart pass from Essien, but he's flagged up correctly for offside. "Last time those teams met, shortly after the game they swapped goal scorers, with Laudrup moving to Copenhagen and Bjarne Goldbæk going to Chelsea," notes Hörður Már Gestsson. "Are we going to see an Anelka for N'Doye swap?" Torres has got to be worth £500,000 or so on current form, maybe Chelsea could throw him in as well to get this deal done?

11 min: Of course, Torres is only going to be a figure of fun for so long. Here he pings a majestic 30-yard pass, inside-left to inside-right, to release Anelka in the area. The striker takes the ball down and shoots for goal in one smooth movement, but the angle's not the greatest and the ball's deflected out for a corner. Nothing comes from it, but this is a very good start by Chelsea.

13 min: Pospech cuts inside from the right and suddenly finds himself in acres of space, on the edge of the Chelsea area. He has a thrash for the bottom-left corner, but his effort is easily blocked by a dangling Chelsea leg. A follow-up effort from the rebound by Kvist is easily dealt with, too. But that's the first showing up front from the home side, who have been under the cosh a bit so far.

17 min GOAL!!! Copenhagen 0-1 Chelsea. Well this was pretty easy. Gronkjaer, formerly of Chelsea, plays a reverse pass down his left wing, the Chelsea right, without looking. The ball's straight to the feet of Anelka, who turns and hares straight down the inside-right channel and into the box, before lashing the ball past a not particularly impressive Wiland and into the net. A bit farcical, that, really, with very light shades of Jesper Olsen against Spain all those years ago, though Chelsea deserve the lead, so well have they started.

19 min: N'Doye picks the ball up and races at great speed straight at the Chelsea back line, straight down the middle of the pitch. He knocks the ball past Terry, and chases after it, but doesn't reach it, diving over Terry's outstretched leg instead. He looks for a free kick, but doesn't get it, the referee waving play on. Terry had made no effort to get out of the way, this much is true, but N'Doye had plenty of time to take action without clattering into (or diving over) the man. The referee got that right. "I was once given some dipping tobacco," writes Alexander Netherton. "It twirled me out for a loop and no mistake." Was it Copenhagen brand, Alexander? Maybe, as the man on the ad says, you should have tried Happy Days, for you boys starting out.

22 min: Some space for Torres down the inside-left channel. He glides towards the six-yard box, before slightly miscontrolling again, allowing Wiland to save at his feet at close range for the second time in the match. Torres isn't fully sharp, but there's the sense he's not far away from clicking again. His first goal in Chelsea colours isn't far off, I'll be bound.

25 min: Lampard and Malouda combine well down the middle of the park, slipping Torres free down the inside-left channel again. Once again, a miscontrol; that goal's not coming yet. "Man up!" cries Ben Dunn. It had to happen. I'm just surprised it took 25 minutes.

27 min: The home side look very nervous. They're struggling to put anything together in Chelsea's half. Gronkjaer drops a shoulder and swans down the left, but his cross is easily dealt with by Cech, on account of no Copenhagen player being within ten yards of the ball.

31 min: Copenhagen just can't get started at all. Twice Cole nearly breaks into the box, then Malouda has a go, then finally Anelka takes charge and bursts through the back line down the left. But instead of shooting for goal, as he surely should, he crosses for Torres in the centre, allowing Wiland to claim the softly floating ball. "Never mind a 'real Jesper Olsen'," writes Lars Eriksen, he of Danish Dynamite fame, "this is another case of a 'real Jesper Gronkjaer': this brings back memories of his disastrous backpass against Italy in a Euro qualifier in '99 after about 40 seconds which let Inzaghi through to score."

34 min: Five Chelsea players are caught offside, a couple of metres inside the Copenhagen half. Copenhagen are playing a dangerous game with this high defensive line; Ramires wasn't far from breaking through legally and finding himself totally free on goal. Chelsea are playing very well indeed, stroking the ball around very nicely, but the home side aren't helping themselves.

36 min: Torres finally makes his mark on the stats sheet, but it's by picking up a booking for a mistimed rake at the ball, the Chelsea man clipping Bolanos's leg instead.

38 min: Santin breaks purposefully down the left, checks, and strokes a pass inside for N'Doye. His striking partner miscontrols, though the ball rolls straight out right to Bolanos, who gifts the ball straight to Cole. That was very poor from both N'Doye and Bolanos, who between them extracted all the energy from a spirited spurt by Santin. Chelsea were light at the back for a split second there; Copenhagen can't afford to waste these chances.

39 min: Anelka, cutting in from the left, hoicks a decent shot goalwards. The ball clears the bar, but not by much. Chelsea really should be leading this by two or three, they're in total control.

42 min: Chelsea are stroking it around the middle at the moment, just because they can. They have quietened the home crowd considerably.

HALF TIME: Copenhagen [team yet to turn up]-1 Chelsea. The visitors have manned up, no question. They were very impressive in this half. Very impressive indeed.

Half-time entertainment:


Hallelujah for Chelsea!

And we're off again, Copenhagen having swapped Santin for Vingaard in an attempt to shake things up, because they were bloody awful in the first half. They set the ball rolling, and the sub makes an immediate impact, the new man taking a real thrash at the ball 20 yards from goal. Vingaard's effort is heading for the bottom-left corner, and though Cech was always going to get behind it, the shot may give the hosts heart. They've managed more in 18 seconds than they did in the entire first 45 minutes.

47 min: N'Doye goes down in the middle of a melee while challenging for a long throw that's been Delaped into the Chelsea area from the left. He likes going to ground, does this lad. For the second time this evening, the referee's not having a bar of it. Play goes on.

50 min: Copenhagen stroke it around the middle for a while, knocking it hither and yon, but eventually the move peters out, Gronkjaer passing the ball straight out of play. He's not enjoying this reunion so far.

52 min: N'Doye slides a lovely ball down the inside-right channel for Bolanos. The ball doesn't reach the Copenhagen man, as it's toed off its path by Cole, though it breaks to Vingaard on the edge of the area. He should either hammer a shot goalwards, or take it on a touch, but instead decides to attempt to dink the ball over Cech. He doesn't manage it, a lame effort going straight down the keeper's throat.

54 min: GOAL!!! Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea. So simple. Lampard has the ball 35 yards out in the centre. He's facing left and has Torres to aim for down that wing, but instead plays a reverse pass down the inside-right channel for Anelka, who breaks into the box and dispatches a finish as crisp as the Copenhagen air into the bottom left. Chelsea are good for this lead, and should really add to it the way things have been going.

57 min: Copenhagen look, to their last player, thunderingly depressed. It's a wonder the ball doesn't sigh every time they prod it around the pitch.

59 min: Torres picks the ball up down the right and cuts inside. For a moment he's free in the box, one on one with the keeper, but hesitates and allows Antonsson to come back at him. Torres drops a shoulder and makes himself some more space, eventually getting a shot away, but the keeper's got time to position himself well and gets behind it. It's become a glaring confidence issue, this, but he's getting so many openings surely a goal isn't long in coming, and then we can forget all about it.

63 min: The atmosphere is dead here. Everyone knows Copenhagen don't have the tools to beat Chelsea over two legs. Didier Drogba is jogging up and down the touchline in trainers. Get your boots on, man, you're at work! In ten minutes, expect him to be pictured on the bench in a shapeless baggy sweater, picking at a huge bag of popcorn, and drinking rosé.

67 min: Lampard gives the ball away in the centre. N'Doye streams forward, then slides Gronkjaer free down the left. The former Chelsea man zips into the box and cuts inside past Terry, diving over his leg. For a second, it looks like the referee is going to award an erroneous penalty, but instead he gives a free kick for offside. Which he patently wasn't. All very odd. We move on. "I thought I was over my Torres break-up," sniffs Ian Copestake, "but I am clearly still not keen on seeing him happy with someone else and hoped he would never actually score for Chelsea in my lifetime let alone this match. But perhaps its best to just let go, so come on Torres." You're going to feel physically sick when this happens, aren't you?

70 min: Pospech is booked for clattering into Torres down the inside-left channel, just outside his own box. He'll miss the second leg, which may be sweet relief the way this is panning out. Lampard welts the set piece miles over the bar for three rugby points.

73 min: No popcorn or crisp, delicious rosé yet for Drogba, who comes on, wearing boots as well, to replace two-goal hero Anelka.

75 min: A beautiful flowing move by Chelsea sets Torres free into the area down the left. He holds off a challenge from Pospech and dinks the ball over the advancing Wiland towards the goal, but doesn't get enough weight on the shot. As the ball bounces towards the empty net, Wendt jogs across and clears. This search for his first Chelsea goal is now becoming farcical.

76 min: Wendt is replaced by Bengtsson. N'Doye lashes a hopeless shot miles wide right of the Chelsea goal. It's a wonder the ball doesn't emit a primal scream every time Copenhagen prod it around the pitch.

78 min: Bengtsson finds a bit of space down the left and gets a decent cross into the area, but Cech plucks it from the sky with only N'Doye in attendance. A few seconds later, Vingaard has a whack at the target, but it's more catching practise for Cech.

80 min: Now Claudemir arrives from the left and whips a shot straight at Cech. Another easy field for the keeper, but at least Copenhagen are putting a few moves together.

83 min: Torres has Malouda in acres down the left, waiting patiently for a pass to release him on goal. Instead, the striker embarks on a gymnastic programme of shimmies and dragbacks, in an attempt to worm his way past three players in the middle. The ball's whipped from his toe after one shimmy and half a dragback. On the left, so much steam parps from Malouda's ears, the temperature rises above freezing.

85 min: If Malouda was in a little mood back then, he'll now be in a proper full-on Bootsy Collins funk. He's substituted for Zhirkov. Then, taking an age to walk off, is booked for fannying around. His wild gesticulations of protest at least disperse some of his ear steam.

86 min: Terry is booked for upending Vingaard down the right.

87 min: Zohore comes on for Gronkjaer.

89 min: Torres rips down the left. He's got Drogba in the middle, but can't find him, sending in a hilariously poor low cross that's cut out by the first man, who is whistling and looking at his fingernails. Twenty seconds or so later, Drogba picks the ball up on the left himself, and preposterously decides to take a whack at goal from the best part of 30 yards, near the touchline. I'll do him a favour and not describe it.

90 min: I have no idea how many extra minutes there will be. We're sailing off into uncharted waters here.

90 min +2: Once again Torres fails to complete the full match, though at least he's done 90 minutes this time. Kalou comes on for the final throes.

FULL TIME: FC Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea. And that's that. Altogether now...


A well-deserved result for a very impressive Chelsea, who coasted through that. And yet John Terry still finds a reason to argue with the referee at the final whistle. That's manly men for you!


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