When Chelsea brought in Samuel Eto'o in August there were more than a few who questioned the wisdom of the deal.
Despite the Cameroonian striker arriving on a free transfer, there were feelings that at 32, he was past his best and a long way away from the star striker that Jose Mourinho desperately needed at Stamford Bridge.
With the club's very public attempt to sign Wayne Rooney failing, Eto'o's signature seemed something of an anticlimax at best and at worst smacked a little of desperation.
However to the delight of Chelsea fans and perhaps the surprise of some others, the striker has proven to be an astute piece of business from Mourinho, particularly as he appears to have a handy knack of scoring crucial goals for the club.
Chelsea's important post-Christmas meeting with Liverpool could hardly have started any worse for the Blues, who were looking to make up lost ground on league leaders Arsenal.
Martin Skrtel tapped in after three minutes and Mourinho's men were faced with the prospect of going into the new year in fourth place, five points off the pace.
Eden Hazard pulled a goal back and later Eto'o popped up to score what would prove to be the winning goal and ensure Chelsea kept themselves in the title race.
Chelsea had to wait nearly three weeks for another Eto'o goal, but like London buses, they got three all at once.
The four-time African player of the year put David Moyes' struggling Manchester United to the sword with a hat trick, ending their faint hopes of retaining their title and keeping Chelsea only two points away from the league's leaders.
After his hat trick heroics, the goals slightly dried up for Eto'o, who also found himself the subject of some rather undermining, unguarded remarks from Mourinho that were leaked to the press.
However the Cameroonian bounced back and once again chipped in with a crucial goal, breaking the deadlock against Tottenham before winning the game-altering penalty as Chelsea finished 4-0 winners.
Last night Eto'o once again repeated his trick of scoring key goals, this time in Chelsea's knockout game with Galatasaray.
After a first leg that had seen Chelsea squander several good opportunities to all but seal their qualification, the tie was all square at 1-1, with the Turkish side perhaps sensing an opportunity to spring an upset.
However in the fourth minute of the game, Eto'o slipped in behind the Galatasaray defence and showing the unnerving finishing skill that has always been a feature of his play, slotted the ball past the opposition goalkeeper - from that point on, it was a lead that Chelsea never looked like surrendering.
Chelsea 2 Galatasaray 0: Player Ratings
Chelsea 2 Galatasaray 0: Player Ratings
1/11 Petr Cech 6/10
Had next to nothing to do all night long for Chelsea and in truth anyone could have done his job on the night. Galatasaray having only one shot on target all game shows the extent of Cech’s requirement. Saved well from Drogba’s effort on as simple a Champions League night as a ‘keeper could wish for.
2/11 Cesar Azpilicueta 7
Helped down the wing without be a major threat and was kept honest by Drogba in defence. Did well to cope with the strength with of Drogba though and never looked in trouble.
3/11 Gary Cahill 9
Rifled home Chelsea’s second from three yards out by being in the right place at the right time from Terry’s saved header and was never going to miss. Defended with confidence and ease along side Terry.
4/11 John Terry 9
Dealt with everything that Galatasaray could muster with ease and could have got on the score sheet with well-connected volley that went just over. Set up Cahill’s goal with a strong header from the corner on great night of the Chelsea captain.
5/11 Branislav Ivanovic 6
Was a threat down going forward without ever looking in trouble defensively. Steady display all round. Booked for blocking off Drogba.
6/11 Frank Lampard 8
Ran the midfield for Chelsea in a very controlled and mature performance showing all his experience. Picked off tackles and showed full range of passing. Set up Willian who might have scored and had some decent half chances himself that in years gone by might have found the net.
7/11 Ramires 7
Caught early on in his already injured face and looked shaken up a bit after but put in a strong performance in Chelsea’s engine room. Broke up play well and his strong running helped start attacks.
8/11 Willian 7 (Kalas, 93)
The least effective of Chelsea’s attacking midfield trio but still put in a good shift. Had a couple of decent efforts on goal but neither drew too much effort from the Galatasaray goalkeeper. Pacey all night long and gave Chelsea good width but not at his best.
9/11 Eden Hazard 8
Linked up well with Oscar all night long and looked a real threat with his pace and trickery. Touch over-elaborate at times but performed well and had the beating of Galatasaray defenders throughout.
10/11 Oscar 9 (Schürrle, 82)
Looked tricky and skilful all night long and had the numbers of several Galatasaray players. Set up Eto’o for the opening goal with a perfectly timed pass and won the corner for the second goal but not giving up on Lampard’s over hit ball. Booked a touch unfairly for tackle on Selcuk Inan but a good night all round for the Brazilian.
11/11 Samuel Eto'o 7 (Torres, 85)
Put any Chelsea nerves to bed with just three minutes gone after staying onside well and firing low past Muslera to open the scoring. Found chances relatively hard to come by afterwards though but still linked up well with the attacking midfielders and held up the ball well.
While Eto'o is neither the star striker that Chelsea fans have been crying out for or even the star striker that he once was, if the Cameroonian can keep scoring key goals, then he might prove to be just the striker that they need.
Eto'o's Chelsea Goals
1 v Cardiff, 19 October (Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff)
2 v Schalke, 6 November (Chelsea 3-0 Schalke)
1 v West Brom, 9 Novemeber (Chelsea 2-2 West Brom)
1 v Liverpool, 29 December (Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool)
3 v Man United, 19 January (Chelsea 3-1 Man United)
1 v Tottenham, 8 March (Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham)
1 v Galatasaray, 18 March (Chelsea 2-0 Galatasaray)
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