Ancelotti: Anelka in best form of his life
© AFP

Carlo Ancelotti claimed Nicolas Anelka is in the best form of his career after Chelsea ensured qualification for the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League with a 4-1 win over Spartak Moscow at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Anelka, his fifth in Europe this season, a brace from Branislav Ivanovic and a penalty from Didier Drogba crushed the Russians, who scored a late consolation goal through Nikita Bazhenov. Only a shock defeat to MSK Zilina at home in a fortnight could stop the Blues from finishing top of Group F.

After a disappointing goalless first half, Chelsea increased the tempo and within four minutes of the re-start Anelka had put the Blues ahead. It was his 10th of the season in all competitions and  Ancelotti was quick to hail the former France international by proclaiming the 31-year-old was in the best form of his long career.

He (Anelka) has experience. He maintains very good skill, ability, and speed. Overall he is in the best moment of his career.
Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea coach

"All the players played a good game," said Ancelotti. "We had more difficulty in the first half, but we played better in the second. Anelka was the key to opening up the game. He scored a fantastic goal - the most important this evening.

"I think he is happy at this moment. He's the same compared to last year and the same Anelka I found when I came here, nothing has changed," said Ancelotti. "He has experience. He maintains very good skill, ability, and speed. Overall he is in the best moment of his career."

Ancelotti insists Chelsea will end up UEFA Champions League winners if they succeed in achieving his 'three steps to heaven'. The victory over the Russians, their fourth straight success in Europe this season, took them close to achieving phase one of Ancelotti's plan.

"There will be a long race getting to the final," added Ancelotti. "When you reach the first aim, which is to win the group, the next aim is to reach the final, and then to win that. I don't know if we can do this, but we have a possibility. We have the motivation to do this, but sometimes you have to be lucky also."