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UEFA Champions League

  • 6 December 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Stamford Bridge, London
  • Referee: G. Rocchi
  • • Attendance: 41109

Chelsea 3-0 Valencia: Inspirational Didier Drogba scores twice to send impressive Blues through as Group E winners

Chelsea 3-0 Valencia: Inspirational Didier Drogba scores twice to send impressive Blues through as Group E winners

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The 33-year-old rolled back the years with the club's fastest-ever goal in the Champions League after just three minutes and added a third after Ramires punished poor defending

Didier Drogba rolled back the years with two goals as Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas with a 3-0 victory over Valencia that sees them qualify from Group E of the Champions League in top spot.

Drogba opened the scoring from close-range after just three minutes to set them on their way, before Ramires capitalised on a moment of laziness from Victor Ruiz to add a second midway through the first half.

Having been set free by a glorious through-ball from Juan Mata with 15 minutes remaining, the Ivorian made no mistake to wrap up a significant victory for the Blues, one that, coupled with Genk's draw with Bayer Leverkusen, saw them win Group E on a night that could have seen them crash out of the competition.

Villas-Boas surprised many by omitting Frank Lampard from the starting XI, preferring Raul Meireles in midfield, while, as expected, Drogba got the nod up front ahead of Fernando Torres in a team with just one change from the 3-0 win over Newcastle. Ruiz, meanwhile, had recovered from injury in time to start at centre-back for Valencia alongside Adil Rami.

Chelsea carved out the first chance of the night, Daniel Sturridge battling to get past Jordi Alba on the right flank and passing to Drogba, who held the ball up before teeing up Meireles. The Portuguese let fly from distance but his shot was saved by Diego Alves.

But just a moment later, the Blues found a vital early breakthrough, Juan Mata picking the ball up on the left of the penalty area and slipping it to Drogba, who took a step forward and lashed it towards the net, with Alves getting a hand to the ball but not enough to divert it away from his far corner.

The Spaniards nearly replied instantly, with Tino Costa’s pass into Alba, who came in with a fine run from the left and rattled the woodwork with his shot.

David Albelda then tested Petr Cech with a magnificent strike from 25 yards out, curling deliciously towards the top corner before the Czech goalkeeper intervened with a fingertip stop.

After 20 minutes, the Blues extended their advantage, with the irrepressible Drogba blazing forward then playing Ramires through. The Brazilian bore down on goal and took advantage of Ruiz’s hesitancy to take the ball round the centre-back and bury a simple finish inside the near post.

They could have pulled further in front when Mata released Sturridge down the right flank but, rather than pick out Meireles, who was free in the area, the England man tried to take on Alves himself and saw his shot saved comfortably.

The rest of the half went largely to plan for Chelsea, who were sitting back and allowing Valencia the majority of possession but defending doggedly in deep positions and waiting for opportunities on the counter.

Crucial blow | Ramires capitalised on a Ruiz error to net the vital second

Valencia resumed their travails after the break, bringing on Aritz Aduriz after 10 minutes to partner Roberto Soldado up front as they changed formation in the hope of breaching the hosts’ stubborn defence.

They found it difficult to create chances, coming closest when Antonio Barragan‘s attempted cross teetered over the top of the net and Cech was forced to tip it over the top to be safe.

As the game moved past the hour, Sofiane Feghouli caused a scare when he seized upon a rare gap in the Blues back line and struck towards goal, but Cech dived low to his left to parry it away.

With Villas-Boas beginning to make changes with a view to shutting the game down, Drogba was found in an increasingly-rare forward foray for Chelsea. The Ivorian displayed fantastic strength to power past Ruiz and closed in on the Valencia net, but his shot was scuffed wide when it appeared he had done all the hard work.

Yet he made up for his mistake two minutes later. Drogba was set free with a perfect through-ball from Mata behind him and, with both centre-backs taken out of the equation, passed the ball into the net in a cool finish.

The third goal visibly took the wind out of Valencia's sails and not even a brief pitch invasion could distract Chelsea from holding on for an important victory which could turn their season around.

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