DROGBA BRACE PUTS THE FREEZE ON ROSENBORG
Chelsea provided a performance which lit up a chilly evening in Norway, as a 4-0 win sent the Blues through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
A Didier Drogba brace was followed by strikes from Alex and Joe Cole and, in truth, the result was never in doubt.
Avram Grant recalled Claude Makelele, Michael Essien, as well as the three goal scorers, while Rosenborg boss Trond Henriksen kept faith with the same side which grabbed a 2-0 win away at Valencia three weeks ago.
Incidentally that was the last competitive fixture Rosenborg played and unfortunately for them, they had no time to find their stride as Chelsea attacked from the outset.
Drogba-back from a knee injury-started as he meant to go on, and after a early effort found only the side-netting, it didn’t take long to go one better.
In the eighth minute the lively Joe Cole saw his shot saved after a run on goal. Rosenborg ‘keeper Lars Hirschfield could only parry the ball however, and Drogba was on hand to lash home a half-volley from a tight angle to put the Blues ahead.
By the 20 minute mark the game was already over as a spectacle. Some great work by Shaun Wright-Phillips-who battled and bustled his way through to slide a ball into the box-was finished again by Drogba. This time the Ivorian went for precision as he placed a left-footed shot high past the despairing Hirschfield.
Rosenborg rarely threatened in the first-half and it was Chelsea who looked more likely to score again. It was no real surprise then when a third was added five minutes before half-time.
Joe Cole was fouled a good 35 yards out so up stepped Alex, who did not disappoint. A low, driven shot found the back of the net and Rosenberg found themselves well and truly down and out.
The Norwegians were probably thankful for the break but Chelsea did not relent after the interval.
Wright-Phillips burst forward from the midfield after Rosenborg lost possession, but he could only turn Drogba’s ball in from the right against the cross bar.
Grant made a double substitution with the game as good as over, with Andriy Shevchenko and Salomon Kalou coming off the subs bench for Drogba and Wright-Phillips.
Just five minutes later, Chelsea made it four, and with Joe Cole getting on the score sheet, it was no less than both club and player deserved. Shevchenko got the ball in and a fierce Essien shot was again parried by Hirschfield. Cole reacted first, turning home the loose ball.
Claudio Pizarro came on for Lampard soon after and the game began to peter out. Rosenborg went forward but it was all in vain so late in the game. Cudicini had to tip a shot wide in injury-time but the final whistle was most likely greeted by both Rosenberg-finally put out of their misery, and Chelsea-happy to make it out of the sub-zero temperatures.
Through to the qualifying stages again then, and in reality it should never have been in doubt based on this performance. With the Champions League gradually building towards the business end, Chelsea produced a sizzling performance to melt the frosty Rosenborg resistance.