Jose Mourinho's future was given a much-needed shot in the arm as Chelsea produced their most complete performance of the season to cruise into the Champions League knock-out stage with a comfortable win over FC Porto at Stamford Bridge. Ivan Marcano's own goal and Willian's superb finish either side of half-time swatted aside the 2004 winners amid a polished display in front of gleaming owner Roman Abramovich.
The Blues progress to the last 16, alongside Premier League rivals Arsenal and Manchester City, as group winners after Dynamo Kiev overcame Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Mourinho's side knew defeat would see them crash out of the group stage for the second time in four seasons but his team coped with the pressure with aplomb.
Recalled striker Diego Costa helped put Chelsea ahead as his shot which was saved by Iker Casillas rebounded off Marcano and over the line after just 12 minutes. Porto were unable to deal with the pressure of the occasion and they caved early in the second half when Eden Hazard set Willian free and the Brazil international smashed home his seventh goal of the season to confirm qualification.
As Porto slip into a Europa League competition which includes Manchester United, the headlines belongs to their former manger Mourinho. The 52-year-old has cut a forlorn figure at times this season but the return of his bullish demeanour coincided with among the biggest wins of his two tenures in charge.
Amid a season fraught with inconsistency, Mourinho could ill-afford any further slip-ups as Chelsea's Champions League hopes, the club's season and his own future hung in the balance. The Portuguese boss had expressed his confidence that he retained the support of owner Abramovich, however such faith would be severely tested during a nervy evening in west London.
Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Gary Cahill were all dropped from the start following the loss to AFC Bournemouth, with injury returnees John Terry and Ramires both recalled. Costa, a scorer of one goal in 12 European appearances for Chelsea, meanwhile spearheaded the attack after being omitted from the last two games.
Familiar opposition in the form of Porto stood between Mourinho and European salvation. Coach Julen Lopetegui made four changes from the 2-1 win over the Blues earlier in the group stage with Portugal's Danilo back in a team looking for its first win on English shores. The inclusion of Casillas, who fell out spectacularly with Mourinho at Real Madrid, provided additional subtext to a game bathed in potential headlines.
Both sides would be forgiven for starting in nervous fashion given that the game was being played against the backdrop of Dynamo's attempt to ambush the former winners with victory over pointless Maccabi in Kiev. However, neither team would suffer from early stage fright. Yacine Brahimi tested Thibaut Courtois from a tight angle but it would be the home team who would strike first.
Hazard threaded the ball through to the path of Costa who road the challenge of Marcano and though Casillas saved his initially effort the Spaniard's perseverance was rewarded as the ball ricocheted off Marcano and over the line. The release of relief around Stamford Bridge was palpable and it contributed to a frenetic first half which saw the hosts recapture their swagger.
The intensity from Mourinho's team was relentless throughout, with Porto never allowed to ponder in possession as danger man Brahimi was forced to play with his back to goal. Chelsea threw themselves in front of every effort on Courtois' goal, with Maxi Pereira denied by a desperate challenge.
Chelsea's pressing game almost yielded a second as Cesar Azpilicueta and Oscar combined before the Brazilian's goal bound shot was deflected agonisingly wide by Marcano. Dynamo's half-time lead ensured Porto would be forced to attack in the second half but those plans were dashed within seven minutes of the restart.
Hazard was again the provider and his pass set-up Willian who thundered the ball low past a despairing and powerless Casillas. Vincent Aboubakar and Rúben Neves were introduced as Lopetegui's team chased the three goals required to go through, but Chelsea held them at arms length with Hazard and Costa even able to butcher late chances to extend the lead - such was their dominance. Greater tests of Mourinho managerial acumen may follow but there may not be a more poignant a win secured all season