Chelsea have too much for Galatasaray
Goals from Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill clear the way for José Mourinho’s men to march on
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill (centre left) shoots to score the second against Galatasaray at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Chelsea 2 Galatasaray 0 (Chelsea win 3-1 on aggregate)
Once again, Chelsea are threatening to be the last English club standing in Europe. Arsenal and Manchester City have already gone, Manchester United are teetering perilously on the brink and Spurs have all but been eliminated from the Europa League, but there is something remarkably durable about José Mourinho’s team. They bend for nobody and, though they might not have the same panache of some of the other quarter-finalists, they will always be daunting opponents.
They won here with something to spare, scoring their goals through Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill in the first half, and an aggregate 3-1 lead was barely threatened after the interval. Galatasaray may have some of the more boisterous supporters in the competition but it is clear, too, why Roberto Mancini apparently wants to leave Istanbul to return to English football. He was a picture of frustration on a night when Didier Drogba was showered with love and returned the compliment by doing absolutely nothing to trouble his old friends.
Mourinho’s team played with control and knowhow. They never looked back from the moment Eto’o gave them the early breakthrough and, though it was nice for Drogba to get this kind of reception, it was also true that his presence in Galatasaray’s attack highlighted their limitations.
Chelsea certainly began like they meant business. They were ahead after four minutes and a pattern quickly emerged of Mancini prowling his technical area, remonstrating with his players in a series of exasperated hand signals, or letting out his grievances to his assistant, the silver-haired Tugay. The former Manchester City manager substituted one of his players after half an hour in the first leg. By the same point here, he already had three warming up.
Those were moments when it became apparent Drogba, at 36, is not the player Chelsea’s crowd remember. For long spells the striker gave the impression he was not entirely focused on putting his old club out of the competition. At one point, César Azpilicueta could be seen outmuscling him by the touchline. Drogba’s first chance came from a free-kick and he put it so high and wide it connected with the “Drogba Legend” banner that hangs from the middle tier of the Matthew Harding stand. From Drogba, there was a wry smile, when once there would have been a look of self-revulsion.
Wesley Sneijder was also on the edges, doing little to live up to Mourinho’s billing as one of the three most accomplished No10s in the business but mostly Galatasaray’s problems were in defence. Frank Lampard’s set-piece deliveries frequently created problems and there was some generous goalkeeping from Fernando Muslera, a likely opponent for England in the World Cup.
The problem for Galatasaray was the speed and movement of the home team’s attacking quartet. Oscar, whose recent form has been a concern, looked more like his old self. Eden Hazard was a frequent menace and Eto’o’s goal was a reminder of the days when he regularly tormented defences at this level.
Galatasaray were in trouble as soon as Hazard had controlled a throw-in on his chest, then turned and started running at their defence. Oscar was on the right and Eto’o’s old instincts kicked in, running beyond the back four, latching on to the Brazilian’s pass, then sizing up the frame of the goal. His first touch was not entirely convincing but it was the power of his angled, right-foot shot that exposed Muslera.
Mancini, with his undistinguished Champions League record, will not need to be reminded that a side at this level cannot defend so generously. It was the same again when John Terry flashed a volley just over the crossbar later in the half, and the marking was almost non-existent when the second goal arrived from a Lampard corner two minutes before the interval.
Terry was the player who attacked the ball with the greatest intentions, with no one following his run. Muslera kept out the header but could only parry the ball into the six-yard area where Cahill followed in to volley his shot high into the net.
After that, it was just a question of Chelsea maintaining their concentration from this position of command. They do that pretty well under Mourinho and it did not matter a great deal that they stopped troubling their opponents with such regularity.
They still, however, had the better opportunities, with Willian and Lampard firing in shots at Muslera. The England manager, Roy Hodgson, was among the crowd and the goalkeeper actually did well in the second half, also tipping a curling effort from Hazard just round his post.
Drogba was booked, a decision the crowd booed, and for the last half an hour there was the clear sense that both teams were simply going through the motions. Chelsea looked like a team who just wanted to see out the match, while their opponents appeared to have completely lost any sense that the game was still open.
It resulted in a meandering and slightly unsatisfactory period – Mancini watching with his feet up – but the home crowd could still look on contentedly, singing Drogba’s name and wondering whether Mourinho could yet become the first manager to win the European Cup with three different clubs.