With the tie beyond Copenhagen after the 2-0 defeat at home, the Danish side came to Stamford Bridge determined to make off with whatever credit was still attainable from the tie. In the latter part of the second half they were even striving to win the match.
In truth they lacked the means to do that but Chelsea's finishing was so vague that it took the introduction of Fernando Torres from the bench to call upon Johan Wiland for a save of note. Most of the crowd of 36,454 had to be tolerant at least, with only the visiting supporters discovering any kind of pleasure in the fixture.
It may gnaw at Chelsea that it took Torres to raise hopes but the other forwards also showed quality, even when it vanished once they were in sight of the posts. There was effort despite the fact that a place in the last eight was, to all intents and purposes, Chelsea's before the sides even emerged from the dressing room.
It was typical of Copenhagen's attitude that, for instance, Oscar Wendt should pull off a tackle on Nicolas Anelka when the Frenchman seemed to have gone clear moments from half-time. The French striker differed from his team-mates by being a little sharper but Wiland saved a mediocre shot when he went through in the 21st minute.
The visitors had to retreat eventually but are to be saluted for opening as if all their hopes were intact. Even their manager, Stale Solbakken, looked frantic throughout. Without such spirit Copenhagen would not have got this far in the tournament. It must have been galling, too, that they had gone into the first game with Chelsea while lacking competitive match practice because of a mid-season break. Their more recent exertions enlivened them here.
Carlo Ancelotti's side, for their part, have begun to feel better about themselves, with improvement witnessed in the Premier League. While reconstruction is in progress, Torres was marginalised and David Luiz is ineligible. The old guard were therefore presented with an opportunity to illustrate their continuing relevance.
Copenhagen had a keen appetite of their own and came close to a goal in the first half when Dame N'Doye hit the post with a free-kick after 26 minutes. There had, all the same, been gusto from Chelsea and Didier Drogba, perhaps eager to emphasise his status as a centre-forward while Torres sat on the bench, was keen to link with Anelka.
It was Drogba who released Ashley Cole in the eighth minute, only for the left-back to fire into the side netting. The Ivorian then adopted a more direct approach with a 30-yarder that called for a save by Wiland. Yuri Zhirkov, starting a second consecutive match while Florent Malouda pays the price for a loss of form, might have put Chelsea ahead but missed the target after being set up by Drogba and Cole.
Copenhagen's desire to compete was laudable and accusations of complacency were not to be levelled against Ancelotti's side. If anything, they were enlivened by the keenness of the visitors. Chelsea's fault was leniency. Mikel John Obi hit the bar with a header following an Anelka flick. The trait was almost wilful at times, with Anelka appearing to go through on the right only to double back and invite a challenge in the 50th minute. Before that Drogba had not been able to convert José Bosingwa's low cross at the far post.
Copenhagen, for their part, were as determined at the least to leave this stadium feeling proud of themselves. Indeed, the desire to score had increased as the second half developed. That wish to attack should, in principle, have offered scope to their opponents but Chelsea's reaction was largely one of exasperation.
The crowd was tetchy. If Copenhagen's adventurousness was not irritating enough they had to study a move between Ramires and Frank Lampard that came to no more than an aimless ball from the Englishman that ran off-target. The introduction of Torres for Anelka at least awakened enthusiasm in an exasperating game.
The outcome did not matter in itself while Copenhagen were failing to score but it would have been happier for the crowd and the players if there had been a further demonstration that Chelsea are on the rise. Even so, a berth in the quarter-finals does carry status.
There is also the pragmatic consideration that Manchester City, one of their rivals for a top-four place in the Premier League, arrive at this stadium on Sunday. Torres was being allowed some rest for that fixture and the match will also have weighed on the starting XI against Copenhagen.
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