By Trevor Haylett at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea FC earned a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the UEFA Champions League to reach the quarter-finals but they were pushed to the limit by a brave VfB Stuttgart side who dominated the second half.
Chelsea were indebted to a towering performance from captain John Terry, who held his creaking defence together with a series of crunching tackles. The highlight of his performance came when he lunged to block a goalbound effort from substitute Imre Szabics late in the second half.
As expected Damien Duff returned for his first starting appearance for Chelsea since before Christmas. The only other change to the eleven which began the game in the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion saw recent signing Scott Parker named in midfield for his first taste of Champions League football. Geremi and Eidur Gudjohnsen dropped to the bench.
Stuttgart started with Cacau in attack alongside Kevin Kuranyi. Boris Zivkovic was also promoted at the expense of Horst Heldt and his inclusion at the heart of the defence meant that Fernando Meira, whose own goal in Germany two weeks ago ultimately proved decisive, moved into midfield. The game quickly settled into a similar pattern to the first leg, Stuttgart building their attacks with aggression and skill, Chelsea resisting and looking to counter.
Carlo Cudicini was again a busy goalkeeper, fielding a hard shot from Fernando Meira and grateful that Silvio Meissner's diving header flew wide. Chelsea had threatened first, however, when Duff seized on Frank Lampard's short free-kick and forced Timo Hildebrand to push his shot around the post. Then Hernán Crespo glanced Duff's cross wide.
The away side were receiving loud encouragement from the travelling fans and there was much to please them as they strung a number of passes together on their approach to goal. However, all their efforts kept going straight to Cudicini - Meissner, Kuranyi and Andreas Hinkel all unable to make the goalkeeper work. Substitute Szabics, on for Cacau after 40 minutes, did better with his first involvement, forcing a diving stop from the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Stuttgart came out for the second half in determined mood as the influence of Aleksandr Gleb grew - the Belarussian midfield player was at the centre of every attack as Stuttgart poured forward with Lahm twice setting home nerves jangling. Meissner and Gleb then had opportunities but their finishing was profligate. Substitutes Szabics and Christian Tiffert added to the pressure on the home side but again failed to test Cudicini when well-placed.
As the game wore on, Lampard improved and his breaks from midfield were a constant worry. He stung the palms of the impressive Hildebrand with a long-range shot, but for the majority of the second half Chelsea were chasing the ball. They suffered late scares when Zivkovic had a free header at the far post following a corner and Kuranyi curled a shot straight at Cudcini from 20 metres, before Terry's block from Szabics.
Chelsea hit post
In the game's closing moments, though, Chelsea had the better chances, with Hildebrand twice making world-class saves from substitute Adrian Mutu. Jesper Grønkjær went even closer when his shot from a narrow angle struck the post in the last minute. But holding tight in defence was more important to Chelsea than scoring at the other end – and though their game plan was not always pretty, it was effective and they will be in Friday's quarter-final draw.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.