History

Champions League Years: How Gianluca Vialli’s Blues secured a quarter-final place in Rotterdam

Champions League Years: Chelsea v Feyenoord 1999/2000

Ahead of our first trip to the Netherlands in the Champions League for almost 20 years this week, you can view highlights of our last visit there as part of the Champions League Years series, now available to watch on the 5th Stand app.

Chelsea were Champions League novices in 1999/2000, enjoying our first season in the competition courtesy of a third-place Premier League finish the previous campaign. The format was slightly different back then to the one watched now by millions around the world, with two group stages before the quarter-finals.

Our trip to Rotterdam came in the penultimate round of matches in the second group stage, with Gianluca Vialli’s side fully aware that victory would secure a spot in the last eight. We had beaten the Dutch side at Stamford Bridge four months earlier, with group fixtures played from November to March, but had not won away from home on the continent since the 5-0 thumping of Galatasaray in Istanbul in October.

The chance to make a perfect start at De Kuip came inside 10 minutes when Tore Andre Flo, cutting inside from the right, won a penalty, but Frank Leboeuf’s spot-kick was saved by Jerzy Dudek. The hosts started brighter overall but we eventually settled and took control of the contest, threatening through Dennis Wise before Gianfranco Zola broke the deadlock in typically eye-catching fashion just before the break.

The magical Italian latched on to a long pass forward, took one touch to control the ball inside the ‘D’ of the penalty area and then cracked in an unstoppable strike that cannoned off the inside of the post and into the opposite corner.

Feyenoord levelled 15 minutes after the restart but the Blues were back in front almost instantly as a terrific move cut through the Dutch defence – Zola to the overlapping Celestine Babayaro, a cross hung up to the back post by the Nigerian and the unlikely sight of Wise rising high to power in a header from eight yards out.

The group points were safely secured with another goal shortly afterwards when Flo ran on to Gustavo Poyet’s forward pass before burying a brilliant left-footed finish into the bottom corner. Cue the celebrations as the Blues recognised their momumental achievement of joining Europe’s elite in the knockout round.

Go behind the scenes, hear the inside story and relieve every moment, from Moscow to Munich, by watching all The Champions League Years episodes on the 5th Stand app.

Each episode of The Champions League Years tells the story of one of the Blues’ Champions League campaign, from our first appearance in 1999/2000 right through until that glorious night in Munich.

Watch all the shows by downloading the 5th Stand app. Once you have downloaded the app, go to the Watch section and you will be able to find all The Champions League Years shows.

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