"We have won it before and we will try to do it again," said Nemanja Matić after Chelsea found hope in a disappointing season by beating Porto 2-0 to top Group G.
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It was the first time in this strangely perplexing season that one of Chelsea's targets had been achieved: namely to finish top of their UEFA Champions League group.
The competition has been the one silver lining in the storm clouds that have refused to shift from Stamford Bridge since August. And after a 2-0 defeat of Porto sealed Group G first place and a round of 16 slot, José Mourinho's players are beginning to talk, in measured and cautious tones, about the prospect of going all the way.
"The Champions League is a tough competition and there are a lot of good teams still in it but I hope that we can do something," said midfielder Nemanja Matić. "Chelsea won it before and we will try to do it again. There is still a long way to go but we will give it our best.
"We respect the fact that we are representing English football and we are doing it very well. We have come first in the group and that's not easy. I am happy we have done that and the atmosphere is very positive in the squad."
Porto had gone top after defeating Chelsea in the second round of fixtures and looked likely to stay there all the way through. That is until matchday five, when they stumbled 2-0 at home to Dynamo Kyiv, a defeat which ultimately cost the two-time winners the chance to advance as the Ukrainian champions took the unexpected opportunity to snatch second place. Porto now transfer to the UEFA Europa League in February, when Chelsea and Dynamo will be preparing for the round of 16.
Wednesday's victory at Stamford Bridge was inspired by Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, who were first at the heart of the incision that resulted in the ball cannoning off Porto defender Iván Marcano for Chelsea's early opening goal. They also combined fluently in the second half to tee up Willian for a meaty drive that gave him his fifth goal of the tournament so far.
Both Matić and defender Kurt Zouma hailed the progress of Costa and Hazard after their form had been questioned in some quarters. "We are very happy to have Diego in the squad," Zouma said. "When everybody plays well the performance of the team is always good. We all have to keep proving ourselves every game."
Matić said Hazard was the Premier League's brightest star. "He is the best; everyone voted for him last season," the Serbian pointed out. "He is a very important player for us but as to whether he is back to his very best, you must ask him because only he knows how he feels. All I can say is that I'm very happy to play with him and I believe in his qualities."