Football: Ba ensures Chelsea take top spot

Football: Ba ensures Chelsea take top spot
Chelsea's French-born Senegalese striker Demba Ba (R) celebrates with teammate Brazilian midfielder Oscar (L) after scoring the opening goal at Stamford Bridge.

LONDON - Demba Ba ensured Chelsea finished top of Champions League Group E as the Senegal striker clinched a 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday.

Jose Mourinho's side had already qualified for the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition, but they needed a victory in their final group fixture at Stamford Bridge to guarantee first place.

Ba's first half goal was enough to fulfil that ambition and, while Chelsea were some way from their best, this fairly forgettable encounter could yet prove a significant stepping stone if they go on to have a successful European campaign.

"I agree it was not a fantastic performance but it was comfortable," Mourinho said.

"We did enough to win without any kind of difficult moments. If we had scored a second goal we would have jumped to another performance.

"Because Schalke were winning we knew a point would be enough to win the group so we just needed to control the game in the second half and not do anything silly."

Mourinho claimed on Monday that Chelsea were unlikely to win the Champions League this season because the squad is still a work in progress in the first season of his second spell at the Bridge.

But that sounded suspiciously like kidology from the Chelsea boss in a bid to ease the pressure on his players, who should benefit from a significantly easier draw in the last 16 now they have finished top of their group.

After Saturday's surprise defeat at Stoke, Mourinho opted to rest Petr Cech as one of seven changes to the team beaten by Stoke, with Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer finally making his Champions League debut, while England left-back Ashley Cole returned after a spell on the sidelines.

Schwarzer became the oldest Champions League debutant at 41 years and 66 days, and also the second oldest player ever in the Champions League.

Mourinho was unhappy with his strikers' lack of goals following the Stoke loss, but his criticism sparked an immediate response, albeit against one of the weaker defences Chelsea will face this season.

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