The passage to the last eight of this year’s Champions League was a comfortable one.
Samuel Eto’o’s 10th goal of the season, scored very early on, took almost all the tension out of the evening and by half-time the scoring was complete, Gary Cahill having slammed in the second.
Only the home side looked likely to find the net throughout and with Didier Drogba not allowed a true sight at goal by the exemplary Chelsea defence, Petr Cech was able to mark his 100th Champions League game with a clean sheet.
Eto’o returned as centre-forward and Frank Lampard came into the midfield in place of Nemanja Matic who is ineligible for Chelsea’s Champions League campaign. The defence was unchanged for the sixth game running and there was the familiar three of Willian, Oscar and Eden Hazard supporting the attack.
For Galatasaray, Yekta Kurtulus, who came on after half-an-hour of the first leg when the home side were struggling, started in midfield. Semih Kaya, a half-time substitute in Istanbul, was in defence.
Before kick-off there was the by-no-means small matter of a packed Stamford Bridge welcoming back Drogba.
He spontaneously ran to all sides of the ground to applaud the fans who began singing his name as a special presentation by chief executive Ron Gourlay was prepared. When it was handed to the Chelsea legend, his son Isaac was by his side.
The players returned to the dressing rooms after the warm-up but moments before kick-off Drogba ran the Chelsea dug-out to plant a kiss on the cheek of Jose Mourinho. An ‘Always in our Hearts’ banner was also on display high in one of the stands.
The action started with a late and painful block on Oscar just inside the Galatasaray half, but the referee decided against an early booking for midfielder Felipe Melo.
Chelsea kept possession from the free-kick, as we did patiently for most of the three minutes leading up to Eto’o’s opener.
Hazard, once again, produced the moment of skill that made the difference, chesting down a ball and turning 180 degrees to leave Felipe Melo trailing and never able to recover. The ball was played wide to Oscar who aimed a diagonal pass to the spearhead of the attack. Eto’o took one touch wide of goal and then got enough purchase on his shot that the hand of Muslera, although making contact, couldn’t prevent it rolling into the Shed End net. We were 2-1 ahead in the tie with less than five minutes played.
With 10 minutes gone, Eto’o was again showing up the Turkish rearguard – nipping past a feeble challenge from full-back Alex Telles – but when he tried to pick out a team-mate inside the six-yard box, the pass found a red and yellow shirt instead.
Drogba had his moments in the opening spell, eventually losing out to a muscular contest with Azpilicueta and Lampard out wide, and bicycle kicking over the goal with a typically ambitious effort.
There had been more tough challenges – Ramires needing treatment to his face already sporting a mask for a broken nose, and Azpilicueta also needing treatment after a collision. Felipe Melo earned the booking he perhaps should have had in the first minutes for an 18th-minute foul on Willian.
Eden Hazard up against Emmanuel Eboue always had promise for those who remember the Ivorian from his Arsenal days and so it proved with our Belgian frequently flying clear down the left. He fired one shot straight into the arms of Muslera.
Eto’o then fouled and was fouled himself moments later, and Wesley Sneijder was also on the receiving end, but the German ref was controlling the game sensibly at this stage and didn’t wave unwarranted cards.
In between the frequent free-kicks, there were promising Chelsea advances, with space not hard to find against opposition who could ill-afford to park the bus.
John Terry, who had been superb at the back both defensively and in initiating moves, came the closet to scoring since the opening goal when he was first to a Lampard free-kick, but his left-foot volley cleared the bar by inches.
A flowing move involving Oscar, Hazard and Eto’o ended with Willian stabbing the ball at the keeper.
On 38 minutes, a Chelsea player was booked, Oscar for a challenge on Selcuk Inan that replays showed had won the ball. The Brazilian’s next contribution was to win the corner from which the second goal was scored.
Bizarrely, the marking system adopted by Mancini’s team allowed Terry a free run from the edge of the area at Lampard’s delivery. The keeper did well enough to keep the header out, but was powerless to prevent Cahill joyously lashing in the rebound.
It was a great way for the defender to celebrate his 100th Chelsea game and the Bridge sang his name loud and clear. There were 42 minutes gone and the tie was surely all but over.
Chelsea could have added to the lead in the opening couple of minutes. Hazard gave Eboue a break and instead tormented the opposite flank, forcing Semih Kaya to sit down with one run before opting to teeing up Oscar rather than shoot. Oscar was tackled. Willian then smashed a shot at the keeper after Lampard had burst through midfield.
There was a second questionable Chelsea booking on 57 minutes when Ivanovic appeared to stand his ground and Drogba collided with the Serbian’s shoulder.
Lampard’s header onto an Oscar cross was comfortable for the keeper, but Chelsea were continuing to make all the running without needing to be too urgent. Drogba was booked midway through the half for a foul from behind on Azpilicueta.
With a massive game against Arsenal to come at the weekend, the closing stages were unspectacularly but safely negotiated.
Oscar had a free-kick punched out by the keeper shortly before he was replaced by Andre Schurrle for the last 10 minutes. It needed a diving, one-hand save from Muslera to prevent Hazard joining the scorers and he then saved on the floor from Torres after a sublime backheel from the again excellent Hazard.
There was still time for one more chorus of ‘Didier Drogba’ round the ground and a Champions League debut for Tomas Kalas before the final whistle. Cech was called into rare action to gather a deflected shot.
At end, Drogba went first to applaud the Galatasaray fans before returning to the centre circle to acknowledge the Chelsea areas of the ground, full of those who had stayed to cheer him off and say thank you for those eight memorable years.
Chelsea will discover our quarter-final opponents when the draw is made at 11am UK time on Friday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard; Willian (Kalas 90+2), Oscar (Schurrle 80), Hazard; Eto’o (Torres 84).
Unused subs Schwarzer, David Luiz, Mikel, Ba.
Scorers Eto’o 3, Cahill 42
Booked Oscar 38, Ivanovic 57
Galatasaray (4-2-3-1): Muslera; Eboue (Hajrovic 76), Chedjou, Semih Kaya, Alex Telles; Yetka Kurtulus (Hakan Balta 65); Felipe Melo, Burak Yilmaz (Umut Bulut 53), Selcuk Inan (c), Sneijder; Drogba.
Unused subs Ufuk Ceylan, Burdisso, Ceyhun Gulselam, Sabri Sarioglu.
Booked Felipe Melo 18, Drogba 65, Selcuk Inan 90+1
Referee Felix Brych from Germany