x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Chelsea complete English trio in Champions League quarter-finals

Chelsea advanced into the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite being held to a frustrating scoreless draw by FC Copenhagen at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea 0 // Copenhagen 0 (Chelsea win 2-0 on aggregate)

LONDON // Chelsea advanced into the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite being held to a frustrating scoreless draw by FC Copenhagen in the second leg of their last-16 match last night.

The Premier League champions, who won the first leg 2-0 in Denmark thanks to Nicolas Anelka's double, could not turn their domination into goals at Stamford Bridge three weeks later but encountered few problems at the other end to become the third English team to progress, after Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

Didier Drogba and Anelka, starting up front together with recent £50 million (Dh297m) signing Fernando Torres on the bench, wasted Chelsea's best chances in a fairly one-sided match, while John Obi Mikel headed against the crossbar in the second half.

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"The only thing we missed tonight was a goal," Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, said. "But we didn't need to score — we only have to score a goal when we need to. We didn't want to take risks. I'm happy with the performance."

Copenhagen threatened sporadically, although the Senegalese striker Dame N'Doye hit the post with a first-half free-kick.

"The dream would have been if the free-kick had gone in," Stale Solbakken, the Copenhagen coach, said. "It could have changed the game psychologically. But the better team won [over two legs]."

The Blues reached the last eight for the fourth time in five years but failed to produce many fireworks against the resilient Danish champions. They seem, however, to have recovered from their midseason blip, and Ancelotti said he fancied the club's chances of winning their first Champions League title. "

The team is strong enough to win it," the Italian coach said. "If we play to 100 per cent, we can make the final stages. I see my team fresh and we're in a good moment. But we can improve a lot."

Drogba's strength and Anelka's movement caused Copenhagen's defence problems in a fairly sterile first half, but it was the visitors who came closest to taking the lead.

N'Doye was kept largely under wraps by Branislav Ivanovic, but the lone striker clipped an effort from a 25-yard set-piece over the wall and against the post with goalkeeper Petr Cech beaten.

"We don't know how they would have reacted if that had gone in," Solbakken said. That was Copenhagen's only real chance in the whole game, with Chelsea more incisive at the other end until the killer finish was required.

Ashley Cole and Yuri Zhirkov both shot wide after good work from Drogba, while goalkeeper Johan Wiland produced a smart one-handed save to deny Anelka.

Anelka then set up Zhirkov with a cross across the face of the six-yard box but the Russia international contrived to stroke his effort wide.

With Torres' introduction imminent, Drogba volleyed wide with the goal gaping in the 48th minute after a superb cross from Jose Bosingwa, and Anelka lost his bearings when played through twice down the inside-right channel.

With the Blues still in complete control, holding midfielder Mikel headed against the crossbar minutes later, keeping Copenhagen in the contest.

Torres, on for Anelka, was given 23 minutes to grab his first goal for the club and sharpen his combination with Drogba.

The Spain striker forced an easy save from Wiland in the 74th minute but that was the closest he came to ending his drought as the game petered out.

Chelsea will find out on Friday which team it faces in the last eight, but Solbakken said Ancelotti's side should hold no fear if it is paired with Barcelona, most people's favourites for the title.

"Barcelona is at this moment a little bit stronger. But Chelsea has a great physique in the team," said Solbakken, who came up against the Spanish champions in the group stage. "They can outpower Barcelona."