But far from just basking in the glory, watching the match on video has also managed to answer a few questions that I had asked my companions as we walked incredulous out of Stamford Bridge such as what on earth was Branislav Ivanovic doing deep in the opposition’s penalty area in the 115th minute of such a gruelling match?
The indomitable Serb had been a colossus all game with his surges down the right flank with the ball at his feet and his relentless overlapping runs characterising Chelsea’s spirit in the second half of the match. Having been switched to centre-back in extra time, just how did he have the energy to be in the right place at the right time? The answer, or course, is that he had stayed forward following a set-piece but in the maelstrom of celebration and disbelief that ensued after his sumptuous strike it was all too easy to lose track of events.
Ivanovic was my choice for man of the match but only by a whisker from Didier Drogba who was back to his marauding best against the Italians. His header for the opening goal came after the Blues were chasing shadows for the opening quarter and his athleticism and accuracy was the catalyst for both him and his team-mates to raise their game considerably. Even though he has been accused at times of not showing the required hunger on the field, there is no doubting that the big man is one for the big occasion.
Drogba almost always produces when it matters and he showcased his very best virtues on the night with his physicality totally dominating the Napoli defence. Unfortunately, it also highlighted a less attractive side of his on-field persona when he made the most, to say the very least, of Salvatore Aronica’s flailing arm to ‘win’ a free kick despite contact being minimal at most. However, while the moralists will undoubtedly rush to condemn Drogba’s actions – and rightly so – as a fickle Chelsea supporter in awe of the rest of the Ivorian’s performance that night, I’m finding it impossible to join the crusade with any conviction.
An admirable mention should also go to David Luiz who had his best game in a Chelsea shirt by some distance. I confess to being very concerned on hearing that the Brazilian had been given the nod ahead of Gary Cahill but he assuaged any doubts with a commanding, error-free display that will hopefully be the first of many in a Blue shirt.
With our veterans – and unpredictable defenders - showing a new lease of life in the post-Andre Villas-Boas era in the Champions League it was just as pleasing to see a much changed team keep the feel-good factor coursing through the veins with a highly enjoyable 5-2 win over Leicester City in the FA Cup this afternoon. The opposition may hail from a lower division but it was still good to see a cutting edge on show for the second time in five days and the headlines will surely all acclaim Fernando Torres who was exceptional throughout. His incisive approach work should have set up an opening goal for Juan Mata who saw a shot blocked but his endeavour was eventually rewarded when Salomon Kalou coolly slotted home the second of the day courtesy of the striker’s surge and pass. A couple of chances did come and go for the Spaniard but he eventually got on the scoresheet in the second half after being teed up by Raul Meireles. His body language looked far better than it has done in recent weeks, perhaps sensing that here was an opportunity to put his woes behind him. Torres confirmed his return to form by bagging a second with a neat header and showed admirable awareness and selflessness when he opted to play in Meireles for the team’s fifth goal rather than attempt to complete the hat-trick that he fully deserved.
Robert Di Matteo now has four wins from his four games in charge but, if anything, the job is now about to get even tougher. Manchester City are next on the list and will accept nothing other than victory having seen themselves slip four points behind Manchester United. City’s form has been below par in the last fortnight with their Europa League exit at the hands of Sporting Lisbon coming hot on the heels of being not only beaten but thoroughly outplayed by Swansea City last weekend. City are a wounded animal and Chelsea can be assured of a reaction at the Etihad Stadium but it is not inconceivable that the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs could continue on Wednesday night especially with the Blues bursting with a rediscovered confidence borne out of their European exertions. Injured captain Vincent Kompany has been sorely missed by City and if Drogba can replicate his Napoli form then the hapless Stefan Savic - who has been standing in for Kompany - could be forgiven for having a few sleepless nights ahead of the match.
Despite the euphoria surrounding the club at present, there has been a very sobering episode in English football this weekend regarding Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba and the horrifying events at White Hart Lane on Saturday. I am certain that I speak on behalf of all Chelsea fans by saying that we wish Fabrice Muamba and his family all the very best as he battles for his life in intensive care. It is horrendous when anyone suffers a cardiac arrest but it is all the more tragic when it happens to somebody aged just 23 years old with their whole life ahead of them.
Get well soon, Fabrice.