By JOHN BOSCHINI
From almost out of the UEFA Champions League to topping Group E, it's been a crazy first campaign for Chelsea manager Andres Villas-Boas.
Talks of crisis at Stamford Bridge seem to be dissipating after Chelsea routed Valencia 3-0 to advance to the knockout round for the ninth consecutive season. Didier Drogba was sensational with two goals and an assist before being subbed off to a standing ovation late in the game.
The Ivorian opened the scoring after just four minutes. Daniel Sturridge cross found the feet of Juan Mata, and the Spanish international laid it off to Drogba, who provided a class finish. Drogba was the provider for Chelsea's second goal 18 minutes later as he played Ramires down the right side. Valencia defender Victor Ruiz should have cleared, but Ramires won the ball and toe-poked it into the net.
Mata and Drogba connected once again for the nail in Valencia's coffin in the 75th minute. Mata played Drogba through with a defense-splitting ball, and Diego Valdez had no shot of stopping the breakaway. It was the second consecutive clean sheet for a Chelsea side that has struggled defensively this season.
Here is a look back at the rest of Tuesday's Champions League action:
MARSEILLE 3, BORUSSIA DORTMUND 2
The French side scored three late goals in Germany to shock the Bundesliga champions and book a place in the knockout rounds.
Jakub Blaszczykowski's goal and Mats Hummels penalty gave the home side a seemingly unassailable lead after 38 minutes, but Marseille had other plans. Loic Remy scored deep into first-half stoppage time and Andre Ayew and Mathieu Valbuena struck in the final five minutes for a thrilling victory. Dortmund failed to even qualify for the UEFA Europa League one season removed from its domestic title, as it finished in last place in Group F behind Olympiakos.
OLYMPIAKOS 3, ARSENAL 1
Olympiakos are into the Europa League after a convincing victory over a short-handed Arsenal. Defense was once again the problem for Arsene Wenger's men as first-half goals from Rafik Djebbour and David Fuster. The Greece side's second goal came courtesy of a howler from backup goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who was pressed into action after Lukasz Fabianski was injured.
Yossi Benayoun pulled a goal back for the Gunners, but Francois Modesto added an insurance goal in the 89th minute. Arsenal entered the match with nothing to play for, already having clinched the top spot in Group F.
RACING GENK 1, BAYER LEVERKUSEN 1
Genk once again played spoiler on their home turf with a hard-fought draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Jelle Vossen struck on the half-hour mark to give the Genk the surprising lead. Leverkusen pushed forward and had the majority of chances, but Eren Derdiyok's goal 11 minutes from time was all they could manage. Genk finished without a win in the Champions League while Leverkusen settled for Group E's runner-up spot.
BARCELONA 4, BATE BORISOV 0
Barcelona made quick work of Bate Borisov as the defending champions ended the group stages unbeaten and with a +16 goal differential. Pedro bagged a late brace, and Sergi Roberto and Martin Montoya scored goals of their own to account for the scoring. BATE could not manage a shot on goal despite the majority of Barcelona's regulars being rested for the upcoming Clasico.
VIKTORIA PLZEN 2, AC MILAN 2
AC Milan conceded two late goals but were already guaranteed second place and advancement into the knockout rounds before the day began. Robinho and Alexandre Pato opened the scoring for visiting Milan about a minute apart just after halftime, and it looked like smooth sailing for the Italians; however, David Bystron and Michael Duris struck late to hand Plzen the unlikely, albeit a mere conciliatory, point.
FC PORTO 0, ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG 0
Zenit St. Petersburg was outshot 25-3, but the Russians held on to secure advancement into the final 16. It was a winner-go-through match in Portugal, but FC Porto were unable to beat Viacheslav Malafeev, who was brilliant in goal for Zenit.
As a consolation prize, Porto will drop down to the Europa League, where it will get to defend its 2010 title.
SHAKHTAR DONETSK 2, APOEL NICOSIA 0
Apoel Nicosia are the first Cyprian side through to the knockout rounds but were dealt their first defeat of the campaign with a lackluster performance. Luiz Adriano and Yevhen Seleznyov scored for Shakhtar, which had already been eliminated from further European play.
What did you think with of today's action? Impressed with Chelsea's performance? Astounded by Marseille's comeback? Concerned about AC Milan?
Share your thoughts below.