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Chelsea overcome Porto and nerves to top group and move into last 16

For a brief, tantalising period here, Chelsea felt restored. José Mourinho was back celebrating goals in rather matter-of-fact fashion, as if the sight of his team stamping their authority over panicked visitors in this arena was merely to be expected. Roman Abramovich was clapping his team’s victory from his box high in the West Stand, that all too familiar grin plastered across his face, while John Terry bellowed instruction and opposing defenders quailed at the sight of a rampaging Diego Costa. Branislav Ivanovic, arms plastered to his sides, was even making smart interceptions to deflect goal-bound shots wide. This was like old times.

The hope is this was actually a portent of better things to come and a much-needed reminder of these players’ underlying qualities. After a campaign scarred so regularly by trauma rather than triumph, Chelsea can at least thrill at the prospect of a Champions League knockout tie in the new year. A game they needed to win to top the standings was effectively secured early, this victory – and there have been precious few of those this year – granting a deceptively comfortable look to the final Group G table. They finished two points clear at the top and three away from a Porto team condemned to the Europa League. A glance at the standings made the fear Mourinho’s team had been flirting with in the buildup feel ludicrous.

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