Chelsea booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a comfortable 4-1 over Spartak Moscow at Stamford Bridge.
Nicolas Anelka, a Didier Drogba penalty and a brace for Branislav Ivanovic helped Carlo Ancelotti’s side maintain their 100% record in Group F.
All the goals came in the second period after an opening half that never really got going, bar a close range miss from Alex..
Spartak wingers Aiden McGeady and Dimitri Kombarov looked lively and created chances as the Russians more than held their own against a Blues side that were a little pedestrian at times.
With Carlo Ancelotti deciding to rest both Michael Essien and John Terry, there was some drive missing from the champions’ play, but a few openings were created nonetheless.
Anelka curled wide after cutting in from the left, whilst Drogba headed a Zhirkov corner over the bar.
McGeady had already gone close at the other end, his curling effort on the turn slipped just wide, and Spartak skipper Alex warmed Petr Cech’s palms from long range.
Ancelotti clearly told his players they needed to do more to break down the resilient visitors, and indeed it took only 4 minutes of the second half to find that extra gear.
Anelka exchanged passes with Salamon Kalou before brilliantly slotting home from a tight angle. Yet further evidence of not only the Frenchmen’s current form, but also his status as arguably the best finisher at The Bridge.
The goal opened the game up and allowed the Blues to find and exploit the growing gaps in the Spartak backline.
Just after the hour it was 2-0, when great strength and skill from Drogba saw him burst into the area before being tripped by Makeev.
The Ivorian picked himself up and lashed home the resulting penalty to all but kill off the contest.
Chelsea were now in their stride and soon after it was three, a Drogba free kick from the right was glanced home by Branislav Ivanovic.
It was surprisingly the Russians who then scored the game’s fourth, making the most of Ivanovic’s failure to clear, Welliton fired across goal for Nikita Bazhenov to stab home and break an impressive clean sheet record for Petr Cech.
The big keeper had not conceded a goal at Stamford Bridge for 956 minutes, the last being John Carew’s goal in the 7-1 demolition of Aston Villa in March.
Salamon Kalou then had two chances to add a fourth, first firing over inside the box before forcing a save from Dykan with a low drive.
Fittingly though it would be Ivanovic who rounded things off, after quick feet from Kalou saw him beat his defender and cross, the ball fell to the Serbian to turn and fire home his third goal in two games.
The final twenty minutes had seen solid cameos from some of the younger players, Josh McEachran, Gael Kakuta and Danny Sturridge all looked lively and are likely to feature more heavily in the remaining fixtures as Ancelotti’s side look to finish as group winners for the sixth time in eight seasons.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Ferreira, Alex, Ramires, Mikel (McEachran 68), Zhirkov, Drogba (Sturridge 76), Kalou, Anelka (Kakuta 76)
Spartak Moscow: Dykan, Shyeshukov (Drincic 67), Suchy, Ivanov, Pareja, Ibson, Alex (Kozlov 68), Makeev, McGeady (Bazhenov 79), Kombarov, Welliton
Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic