Carlo Ancelotti has demanded Chelsea back up their strong performance in the Champions League by repeating the showing against Manchester United in the Premier League next week.
Chelsea moved to within touching distance of the Champions League quarter-finals and eased the mounting pressure on manager Ancelotti with a 2-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in their last-16 first leg at a frozen Parken Stadium.
The result, sparked by a brace by Nicolas Anelka, kept alive their one remaining hope of silverware this season following a miserable few months that have seen last year's double winners all but surrender their Premier League title and crash out of the FA Cup. It got better for Chelsea when Tottenham were beaten 3-1 at Blackpool on Tuesday night, giving their London rivals the chance to reclaim fourth place in the league if they beat United next Tuesday.
"We don't have to be happy for Tottenham's defeat, but it was good news for us,'' said Ancelotti. "Now we have to play against United and try and put in the same performance.''
But Ancelotti has grown tired of declaring Chelsea have emerged from their form slump only to see the odd victory become false dawns as more disappointment follows. This time he refused to comment when asked whether the 'bad moment' was over, demanding instead that his team answer that question on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
Asked if their miserable run was over, Ancelotti said: "I don't want to say. I've suggested that once or twice before. We had a lot of motivation for this game, but now we have to continue it. United will be a fantastic opportunity for us to maintain the same level of football.''
Ancelotti defiantly declared on Monday that "Chelsea has not died'', and he added after Tuesday's match: "We are still alive. I had an idea before the game, and I maintain the same idea now. We are not dead. It's just one game, though. I want to see my team play again, again, again.''
Ancelotti hailed his strikers as the best in Europe after a game in which Anelka scored twice and Fernando Torres did everything but find the net.
Ancelotti said of Torres, who again missed several chances to open his Chelsea account: "His performance was really good. There's a little bit of disappointment because he could have scored. But it doesn't matter. His movement with Anelka was so good. Anelka was able to score and Torres had a lot of opportunities that he created with his movement. He will score in the next game.''
Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken claimed too many of his players underperformed and admitted he got his tactics wrong.
"To be honest, some of my best players maybe didn't have their best days,'' said Solbakken, who admitted blundering by starting former Chelsea star Jesper Gronkjaer on the wing. "Maybe we will never be as good as Chelsea but, on another day, we could have been a lot closer to them. Chelsea were two goals better than us; no discussion.''