Zola, Wise and Flo in full spate
The magic seemed to have deserted Chelsea of late. But in Rotterdam last night they conjured up their most convincing win of this tournament to take their place in the quarter-finals.
The score-line, thanks to a rare goal from Gianfranco Zola, yet another from Dennis Wise and a stunner from Tore Andre Flo, did not flatter a side which dominated the game and now meet Lazio at home next week to decide who wins the group.
Chelsea quickly stamped their authority in midfield and aided by clever running from the forwards, created enough chances to have taken a more comfortable lead than 1-0 at half-time.
From Dan Petrescu's long pass six minutes before the interval, the ball was headed away by Bert Konterman but it fell straight to Zola about 20 yards out. The little Italian steadied himself and, as Ulrich van Gobbel closed in, unleashed a shot which flew in off the post. Jerzy Dudek in the Feyenoord goal stood rooted to the spot, seemingly un-sighted by his own player. Zola jigged with delight. It was his first goal in open play since October 20th.
It was no more than Chelsea's domination deserved, and should have made the score-line 2-0. For after just eight minutes, Frank Leboeuf had missed a penalty, only the second of his long career.
It arrived after a brilliant through-pass from Dennis Wise had found Flo running into the home area where he was unceremoniously brought down by the defender Kees van Wonderen. But Leboeuf placed the spot-kick too close to Dudek who kept it out with relative ease.
It was one of a series of first-half saves made by the highly rated goalkeeper.
He had been forced to push away an early volley from Zola, following a one-two with Poyet, and then on the half-hour tipped a Wise shot over the bar.
There was some alarm in the visitors' ranks 13 minutes into the second half when Tomasz Rzasa speared in a low cross and Ed De Goey's touch only diverted the ball to Bonaventure Kalou who scored easily.
But Chelsea's reply could not have been more emphatic. Six minutes later Celestine Babayaro overlapped down the left, hoisted in a hanging cross which flew over a posse of players before reaching the unmarked head of Wise. The captain duly scored his third goal in three games.
Five minutes later Flo left no doubt about the result, cutting into the area from the right past Van Wonderen and rifling an unstoppable shot into the far corner. Chelsea were through.
Feyenoord: Dudek, Rzasa, Van Wonderen, Konterman, Van Gobbel, De Visser (Samardzic 75), Paauwe (Kalou 46), Van Gastel, Bosvelt, Tomasson, Cruz. Subs Not Used: Graafland, Gyan, Van Vossen, Korneev, De Haan. Booked: Bosvelt. Goal: Kalou 59.
Chelsea: De Goey, Babayaro, Desailly, Leboeuf, Petrescu, Poyet (Morris 77), Wise, Deschamps, Di Matteo, Zola (Ambrosetti 90), Flo. Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Hogh, Sutton, Thome, Harley. Goals: Zola 39, Wise 64, Flo 69.
Referee: Knut-Erik Fisker (Denmark).