Chelsea FC cruised into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with goals from Hernán Crespo and Ricardo Carvalho ensuring a comfortable victory over RSC Anderlecht in Brussels.
The result could have been different had Mbo Mpenza slotted home an early chance in the eighth minute but Chelsea made him pay seconds later, Crespo converting Frank Lampard's left-wing cross before Carvalho doubled their advantage seven minutes later, turning home the impressive Argentinian's flick-on.
Anderlecht made three changes to the team beaten at KVC Westerlo last weekend, with a revamped central midfield seeing teenager Anthony Vanden Borre, usually a right-back, reprise his Matchday 1 partnership with veteran anchorman Yves Vanderhaeghe, who was also restored to the side along with fellow Belgian international Bart Goor. Deployed in midfield against Westerlo, Vincent Kompany made his first start of the group stage at centre-half.
Claude Makelele's knee injury gave Michael Essien a role as Chelsea's holding midfielder and William Gallas returned at right-back. José Mourinho's decision to retain Crespo in attack in preference to Didier Drogba, available after domestic suspension, was soon vindicated.
A Premiership scorer against Newcastle United FC on Saturday, Crespo read Lampard's delivery perfectly before expertly side-footing a volley into the top corner. The goal was harsh on the hosts who had come close to taking a shock lead when Mpenza beat his marker to Christian Wilhelmsson's cut-back but slid his shot wide.
The Brussels club were left to rue their profligacy as Chelsea increased their advantage from a Lampard corner. Crespo's flick-on found Carvalho unmarked at the back post and the Portuguese international showed impressive control for a defender to steer an effort inside Silvio Proto's left upright. Crespo again showcased Chelsea's volleying ability as his dipping strike flew narrowly over the crossbar just after the half-hour.
Home coach Frank Vercauteren made a tactical change at half-time with Oleg Iachtchouk replacing Vanderhaeghe in a bid to add energy to the midfield. The Ukrainian operated behind Mpenza as Anderlecht switched from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 with Goor moving inside from the left to join Vanden Borre in the middle of the pitch.
Anderlecht began enjoying greater possession without really testing Petr Čech in the Chelsea goal. When Mpenza made way for Pär Zetterberg, Iachtchouk moved up to centre-forward. Anderlecht nearly fell further behind as they adapted to their new tactics, when under no pressure Olivier Deschacht went close to handing Chelsea a third goal. The full-back's attempt to turn the ball behind almost resulted in an own goal.
Chelsea were content to play out the remaining minutes at their own tempo with a display of controlled possession football. Lampard struck a post and Crespo could have scored his second goal of the night, before being substituted by Carlton Cole.
End of the road
While victory secures Chelsea a place in the last 16 thanks to Liverpool FC's home draw with Real Betis Balompié, the defeat ends any hopes the Belgium side had of qualifying for the UEFA Cup.