Didier Drogba dispatches on Chelsea Champions League return
There was a sense of deja vu among the Stamford Bridge faithful. Where had they seen this before? Didier Drogba scoring a penalty in the Champions League?
It was in fact a little over two years ago when the Blues, 6/1 to win Europe’s elite club competition, beat Bayern Munich on their own backyard in the tournament’s climax. His header at the death in normal time took the game to extra time, which Chelsea later went onto defeat the Germans on spotkicks. Fittingly the Ivorian converted the winner.
When coming on to replace the injured Loic Remy, moments after the Frenchman had netted the opening goal against Slovenian side Maribor, Drogba received a standing ovation. There was a lift around the ground, a sudden change in atmosphere. Their hero was back.
On converting his penalty to double the Blues’ lead, the din was deafening. This was one party that would last the night, as Chelsea continued to dominate. A vintage and professional performance from Mourinho’s men, they kept going until the final whistle. John Terry found himself bundling over to add another to his teams’ lead, following a lung-bursting sprint forward on a counter attack; Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas combined as the ball fizzed across goal and the former England skipper scored from six yards.
The second period started much the same as the first finished. Inspired by Hazard, who forced an own goal, and then hit home from the spot, before scoring himself to make it put Chelsea 5-0 into the lead.
All that was left to do; in true Mourinho spirit, break the record for their highest ever Champions League victory, and as if Hazard was on his boss’ wavelength, the Belgian responded. Pre-match, the Portuguese manager claimed his 23-year-old protege had his brain. Case closed.
A terrific individual effort, with substitute and youngster Nathan Ake scooping a Fabregas-esque pass over the top for the Belgian, who then dazzled the stadium. An impeccable cushioned touch controlled the ball, then twisting the defender inside-out before picking his spot, with still a lot of work to do.
It was like watching a cross between Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry; from first touch, to the jink, and then the finish. Majestic, stylish and daring.
In the end, this was a story that started with a former figurehead of Kings Road, and which finished with a flourish from the young prince.