LONDON Chelsea, with one eye on Sunday's match against Manchester City, eased into the Champions League quarter-finals when a 0-0 draw with FC Copenhagen on Wednesday secured a commanding 2-0 aggregate win.
Such was Chelsea's confidence that the lead secured by Nicolas Anelka's two goals in the first leg would prove a safe enough cushion for coach Carlo Ancelotti to start with Fernando Torres, Michael Essien and Florent Malouda on the bench.
Torres came on for the last 23 minutes but after sending one shot fizzing past a post and another into the second tier of the stand, the Spaniard remained in search of his first goal after six matches for his new club.
It was all of little concern to Ancelotti, however, as his side stayed on course for the semi-finals for the sixth time in eight years after joining fellow Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in Friday's draw.
Chelsea lacked intensity but always looked capable of upping the pace if they needed to and they almost had to when Dame N'Doye cracked a free kick against a post in the visitors' only worthwhile goal attempt.
"The performance was good, we didn't want to take a risk, we had good control of the game defensively," Ancelotti told reporters.
"We had 24 shots and we could have been more precise up front but that's a small detail."
Chelsea set about their task with the zeal of a team who knew the tie was as good as over and with the quiet home fans in a less-than-full Stamford Bridge acquiescing it was left to the noisy visiting supporters, chanting in perfect English, to provide the atmosphere.
When they did move out of second gear with some nicely-built moves down the left, their finishing let them down as Frank Lampard, Yuri Zhirkov, Anelka and Didier Drogba all failed to take advantage of decent positions.
The Danes, resplendent in bright pink shirts, were busy without ever looking dangerous and they came nearest to a goal when N'Doye's free kick thudded against the post after 26 minutes.
Chelsea were livelier after the break with Drogba shooting just wide and John Obi Mikel clipping the bar with a header as Copenhagen were pushed deeper.
But as the clock wound down it seemed that both sides were content with a goalless draw and the match duly petered out.
Copenhagen, 20 points clear at the top of their domestic league and the first Danish side to make the knockout stage of the Champions League, were happy with their night's work.
"Chelsea were the best team over two games. We were good in seven of the eight games but let ourselves down at Parken after the winter break," Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken said.
"We didn't really have the quality to hurt them tonight, the few times we were through our finishing was poor so we've probably reached the extent of our level.
"Maybe if N'Doye's free kick had gone in we'd have had a look at Chelsea's nerves but all in all I'm really proud of what we've done in this campaign."
Ancelotti's attention was on Sunday's game against City and he said Torres, Essien and Malouda would all start.
"I'd already decided the team to play against Manchester City and I wanted those players to be fresh," said the Italian.
"The feeling is good, all the players are fit and fresh and we are in a good moment."
(Editing by Ed Osmond, To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trending On Reuters
Indian cricket authorities face a fine of up to $15,000 after the pitch used for the spin-dominated third test between India and South Africa in Nagpur was rated as "poor" by match referee Jeff Crowe, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Tuesday. Full Article