Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Gulf in class highlighted by another uninspiring contest

On the way: Gary Cahill celebrates scoring the second goal

Another night, another Champions League mismatch. The last 16 of this season's competition has been full of them.

The aggregate scores to date have been 3-1, 5-1, 6-1, 4-1, 3-1 and 9-2. None remotely close.

You'd have thought the cream of Europe would produce at least one edge of the seat contest at this stage of the competition, yet most of the ties have been decided by the first leg.

Entering last night's clash at Stamford Bridge, the battle between Chelsea and Galatasaray was very much alive following a lively 1-1 draw in Istanbul.

Or so we thought. The Blues blew the visitors away.

Not in the hurricane style of Liverpool in the Premier League lately – a small gust was enough to see off the weak Turkish outfit.

Chelsea won 2-0 and hardly had to break sweat.

This was so comfortable for the home side that goalkeeper and keen musician Petr Cech could have brought his drum kit, taken a seat and pretended he was Ringo Starr in the penalty area.

Chelsea were professional, getting the job done as they always seem to do under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.

Scoring twice in the first half through Samuel Eto'o and Gary Cahill, they could have added more with the classy Eden Hazard the main threat.

The truth is though they coasted to this victory knowing that Galatasaray lacked the weapons and, worse, the will to hurt them.

I know that Roberto Mancini's side have a reputation for being rubbish on the road, but with a Champions League quarter-final at stake, surely they could have displayed a little bit of adventure, appetite and ambition. They offered nothing.

Prior to the match you could have been excused for thinking it was a testimonial for Didier Drogba.

During the match it felt as if Galatasaray believed it really was. They played as if the result didn't matter. Their performance really was that poor.

As for Drogba, he was a pale shadow of the player who once tortured defences when wearing a Chelsea shirt.

He didn't see much of the ball, but when he did, he disappointed. Maybe he didn't want to annoy the fans who constantly chanted his name, displayed banners hailing his legendary status and looked on with awe at their hero returning to play at the Bridge for the first time since winning the Champions League for them in Munich in 2012.

As well as a heartwarming reception from the supporters, the 36-year-old received a presentation from his old club and even found time to kiss Mourinho before kick-off. No wonder he lacked an edge.

Glorious player that he was for Chelsea, in their list of all-time greats I'd put him behind Frank Lampard and John Terry, who will now be dreaming of lifting another European Cup.

They'll have to overcome much tougher tests than this to achieve it. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea will be in the quarter-final draw.

Mourinho wants Manchester United to join them. Hopefully their match tonight will deliver the drama other last 16 ties have failed to provide.

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