By Simon Peach, Press Association Sport
Chelsea squandered a plethora of chances but secured their progress to the Champions League quarter-finals with a goalless draw against Copenhagen at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues headed into the clash with the Danish champions boasting a 2-0 lead but fluffed a flurry of chances to secure victory in the round of 16 second-leg tie.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men rained in shots on the Copenhagen goal throughout the tie, but John Obi Mikel’s header against the crossbar was the closest they came.
The visitors also rattled the woodwork through Dame N’Doye’s stupendous free-kick, although resolute defending by the Londoners kept them at bay.
Fernando Torres started on the bench as Chelsea looked to secure their progress to the Champions League quarter-finals against Copenhagen.
The Spain international has endured a frustrating time since joining from Liverpool in January and was named amongst the substitutes for the round of 16 second leg.
Chelsea manager Ancelotti named a strong starting line-up at Stamford Bridge and plumped for a frontline comprised of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who netted twice in the first leg in Denmark.
FC Copenhagen, meanwhile, were boosted by Mikael Antonsson’s recovery from the buttock strain that had threatened to rule him out, although Zdenek Pospech was suspended.
Ancelotti admitted in his pre-match press conference that the first leg victory in Denmark had been the “turning point” in the Blues’ season, proving a catalyst to successive victories over Manchester United and Blackpool.
Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken, meanwhile, admitted his side needed a “miracle or two” to overcome the Londoners’ two-goal advantage at Stamford Bridge.
Despite starting the game in a better manner, Copenhagen had to endure a barrage of pressure in the opening exchanges as only lackadaisical play and dubious decision-making prevented Chelsea breaking the deadlock.
Martin Vingaard’s blocked free-kick was the only Copenhagen chance to punctuate a dominant Chelsea opening, with Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba all firing in shots.
The latter pair combined superbly in the 18th minute, with the Ivorian sublimely back heeling to Cole before laying off to Yury Zhirkov, who curled a shot just wide of the right post.
Chelsea returned to the attack moments later as Ramires’ exquisite through ball found Nicolas Anelka, but a sublime one-handed stop from Johan Wiland kept the home side at bay.
While Chelsea were dominating, Ancelotti’s men were dangerously close to paying for their impotence in the 26th minute.
Cole’s foul on N’Doye allowed the Senegalese striker to strike a 20-yard free-kick that left Petr Cech dumbfounded and clattered the post.
An audible gasp echoed around Stamford Bridge and seemed to spur the Blues forward, with Anelka looking particularly dangerous.
The Frenchman was again the key component in Chelsea’s attack as he darted down the right flank in the 33rd minute, turning and crossing for Zhirkov to poke just wide.
Several players took turns at miscuing crosses as the half petered out, with Drogba’s tame curling shot the final effort of the half.
Chelsea began the second period brightly and Drogba was unfortunate not to find the target almost immediately with a six-yard volley from Bosingwa’s right-wing cross.
Ramires then tested Wiland with a 30-yard drive, before a melee in the box resulted in the Blues hitting the crossbar.
Lampard’s 51st minute corner was headed on by John Terry and then Anelka before the ball fell to Mikel, but he could only nudge the ball onto the bar from close range.
Chelsea continued to pepper the Copenhagen goal with efforts, with a last-ditch Antonsson block preventing Anelka slotting across the goalkeeper before a flailing Ramires hit a shot just wide.
The Brazil international looked Chelsea’s most impressive player along with Anelka, who fired a fierce shot into Wiland’s hands.
As Chelsea continued to waste a plethora of chances, Solbakken introduced attacker Kenneth Zohore in place of defender Pierre Bengtsson to try to force a goal.
However, Ancelotti soon shuffled his own pack by introducing Torres in place of the visibly upset Anelka.
The £50million January signing almost made an immediate impact as his deflected shot angled just wide of the near post.
Torres became the focal point of Chelsea’s play after his introduction as the home side looked to wrap up the tie.
But after seeing the Spaniard shoot straight into Wiland’s hands, Ancelotti brought on more reinforcements in the shape of Florent Malouda and Michael Essien.
Despite the introduction of fresh legs, only a fizzing free-kick from Drogba was enough to cause Wiland any real problems while Copenhagen blazed over several chances at the opposite end.
The game petered out into a drab affair in the closing stages as Chelsea defended resolutely and the visitors shot wildly, allowing Ancelotti’s men to secure their place in the final eight.