Drogba back with a bang to power Chelsea's progress

Atletico Madrid 2 Chelsea 2

Didier Drogba kept his head amid chaotic scenes here last night to single-handedly book Chelsea's place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

His last sighting in Champions League action had been his foul-mouthed rant live on TV after Chelsea were eliminated at the semi-final stage by Barcelona in May. His ban served for his moment of madness, here was the other side of the Ivorian, the striker who managed to keep his cool in the most frenetic of atmospheres.

Two goals in the last eight minutes of this gripping contest were enough for Chelsea to ensure safe passage into last 16, despite a couple of cracking strikes from Sergio Agüero, the Atletico Madrid striker whose performance will only enhance his prospects of moving to the London club.

The performance of the two very different forwards had the Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti dreaming of possibly pairing them together. "I think Agüero can play with Drogba for sure," Ancelotti said. "Is Drogba the best striker in the world? I don't know but I wouldn't want to change him for any other striker."

Chelsea were outplayed for much of the match but thanks to Drogba's irresistible form in front of goal, they stole the point they needed. Drogba, whose goals took his season's tally to 12, admitted he has never played better than his current form for Chelsea. He said: "I think so. A few years ago I was playing with the same confidence. I always score when I play injury-free. I hope it will be the same to the end of the season."

When the draw was made for the group stage this fixture looked like being Chelsea's toughest. And so it proved as the visitors spent most of the contest on the back foot. The match had been smouldering for a while when Agüero sparked it into life with a spectacular volley in he 66th minute.

Jose Antonio Reyes had gone close for Atletico, who were a totally different proposition to the side that collapsed to a 4-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago and Drogba had hit a post for Chelsea. But it was Agüero, the player the Premier League club baulked at signing for £43m in the summer, who provided the instinctive volley that lifted the game to a totally different level.

Antonio Lopez crossed from the left, the ball flicked off John Terry's head and Agüero dispatched a spectacular volley that flew past a motionless Petr Cech.

Deco wasted a glorious chance to equalise in the 76th minute when the Atletico goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo's punch fell at his feet, but the Portuguese midfielder shot well wide. However Drogba delivered when it was needed, getting his head to a left-wing cross from Florent Malouda to give Chelsea an equaliser with eight minutes left.

Drogba was not finished and with two minutes remaining he managed to conjure up a late strike out of nothing. Despite having worked tirelessly up front, unsupported for most of the match, he chased down a hopeful clearance that Luis Perea failed to defend and, allowed two stabs at the cherry by Asenjo, he scored to put Chelsea ahead.

The sting in the tail came from Agüero, who on this type of form looks like he might actually be worth the astronomical transfer value put on his head by the Spanish club. In stoppage time Diego Maradona's son-in-law stepped up to fire home a stunning free-kick past Cech to ensure Atletico's efforts were not in vain. The goal, however, remained largely immaterial to Chelsea as Porto's 1-0 defeat of Apoel Nicosia ensured that Ancelotti's side gained a place in next year's knockout stage.

After the breathless finish to the match, Ancelotti paid tribute to Drogba's work ethic for the team. The Chelsea manager said: "He's doing well and continuing to do well. We hope he can play other games like he did tonight. He's a striker who scored two goals, and puts in very important work. He is in a good moment. You can look always at his work, and I'm very happy for his behaviour. I hope that he can continue. At this moment, he has a good feeling with his behaviour."

Chelsea's disjointed performance could be put down to the six changes Ancelotti made from the team that had won 4-0 at Bolton on Saturday. Clearly with one eye on Sunday's vital meeting with Manchester United, Ancelotti altered the make-up of the Chelsea side so much they lost some of the rhythm that had brought them 17 goals in their previous four games.

Drogba admitted the impeding visit of the Premier League champions, and the possibility of extending their lead over them to five points, had been on the players' minds in the build up to this match. He said: "I think we were also thinking about Sunday's game. It is really important for us to beat United at home. We have to improve and show different qualities and be better than we were in Madrid. We played well but it wasn't enough to win."

At least thanks to Drogba they did enough to ensure a draw.

Atletico Madrid (4-1-3-2): Asenjo; Perea, Pablo, Juanito, Antonio Lopez; Assuncao; Reyes (Maxi Rodriguez, 73), Cleber, Simao (Jurado, 83); Sinama Pongolle (Agüero, 52), Forlan. Substitutes not used: De Gea (gk), Raul Garcia, Ujfalusi, Alvaro

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Terry, A Cole, Essien (Ballack, 59); Lampard, Malouda; J Cole (Deco, 70); Kalou (Anelka, 70), Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ivanovic, Carvalho, Sturridge.

Referee: B Kuipers (Neth).

Group D

Results so far: Chelsea 1 Porto 0, Atletico 0 Apoel 0; Apoel 0 Chelsea 1, Porto 2 Atletico 0; Chelsea 4 Atletico 0, Porto 2 Apoel 1. Atletico 2 Chelsea 2; Apoel 0 Porto 1

Chelsea's remaining fixtures: 25 Nov Porto (a), 8 Dec Apoel (h).

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam