Chelsea FC underlined their class as they comfortably dismissed the challenge of Olympiacos CFP to book their accustomed place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth time in five seasons.
An early Michael Ballack header set Avram Grant's team on their way and confirmation came as Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou added further strikes. It would have been more but for the defiance of Olympiacos goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis, who was setting a Greek record of 53 UEFA Champions League appearances.
An injury to Petr Čech brought a late change to the Chelsea lineup with Carlo Cudicini stepping up in his place. The initial signs were that it was going to be an easy night for the keeper as wave upon wave of attacks bore down on the Olympiacos defence. A John Terry header in the second minute was never threatening but 60 seconds later there was a real scare for the visitors as Joe Cole seized upon Didier Drogba's half-blocked effort and shot against the upright. An offside flag gave the Greek champions a reprieve from more serious damage but it proved only temporary.
With five minutes on the clock, a dangerous low cross from Ashley Cole was cleared but from the throw-in Chelsea's alertness paid rich dividends as Lampard dispatched a cross and Ballack, afforded too much space, nodded in. The pressure continued as a difficult chance fell to Drogba while Claude Makelele was presented with enough room to have a rare crack at goal.
Olympiacos were finding it difficult to impose themselves, difficult to maintain any possession They were especially vulnerable down their left flank where Paulo Ferreira required no invitation to bomb forward. The second goal came from just that area as the ball was worked neatly to Ballack who had a second goal in his sights only for Nikopolidis to deny him at point-blank range. However, the keeper was unable to hold on to the ball and Lampard was on hand to finish.
The opening goal need not have concerned Olympiacos unduly. After all, they had fallen behind in all three group-stage away trips and in two of those they had managed to go on and win the game. However, at 2-0, it was clear Chelsea had the measure of them and they were able to increase their lead further at the start of the second half. Lampard's corner from the left was missed by Ballack and then Ricardo Carvalho, which left Kalou with the simple task of prodding home from barely two metres for his first UEFA Champions League goal.
It was now a question of how many Chelsea would score while the fans who had made the long journey from Athens refused to be downcast, continuing to sing their hearts out. At least in the 61st minute they had something to cheer as Fernando Belluschi aimed a free-kick on target. Cudicini was behind it all the way. With seven minutes remaining Belluschi fired against the bar and Chelsea's long sequence without conceding a goal in the competition, now over ten hours, was also at risk when Paraskevas Antzas headed goalwards but Cudicini again made the save.