- Dec 16, 2006
CHELSEA breezed into the Champions League quarter-finals by crushing Olympiakos. Goals from Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou won it for the Blues.
They join Manchester United and Arsenal in the last eight, while Liverpool can become a fourth Premier League survivor when the face Inter Milan next week. Olympiakos' noisy fans arrived in hope rather than expectation and the floodgates opened after just five minutes.
Lampard's cross from the left found Ballack at the near post and the Germany star planted his header beyond keeper Antonios Nikopolidis. Didier Drogba could have doubled the lead in the 18th minute after midfielder Joe Cole skipped down the left and found the Ivory Coast striker but the finish was too high.
But the second goal arrived in the 25th minute, with the role of provider and goalscorer reversed.
Ballacks effort was parried by Nikopolidis and Lampard was on hand to tap home the rebound. The hosts began the second half as they had the first and Lampard's shot was blocked two minutes after the restart. But from the corner, Kalou stabbed in from close range after Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho had failed to get contact on their efforts.
They should have added another when Kalou played Lampard in but the England midfielder screwed his shot wide. Substitute Fernando Belluschi forced a save from Carlo Cudicini with a free-kick but it was all Chelsea. And they held firm to secure their place in the next stage.
Meanwhile .... ....
CHELSEA have been rocked by an injury blow to Petr Cech.
The keeper faces a spell on the sidelines after a picking up an ankle knock in training on Tuesday. Cech was forced to sit out of Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League victory over Olympiakos.
At first it was not thought to be too serious but the Czech international was not risked against the Greek side.
Boss Avram Grant is hopeful he will be able to return for Saturday's FA Cup match against Barnsley.