Hiddink delighted with strikers
© AFP

Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink paid tribute to his forward pairing of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka after the Londoners qualified for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by ousting Juventus.

Drogba and Michael Essien scored the goals in a 2-2 draw in Turin that gave Chelsea a 3-2 aggregate victory. It meant that Hiddink lost his 100 per cent record as boss of the Blues but the Dutchman, who is only in temporary charge as he is also the manager of the Russian national team, was more interested in how his players are all coming into form at the business end of the season.

Asked about Drogba's return to goalscoring form - he has four goals in his last five matches - Hiddink said: "He's very important with how he shows his commitment and how he's always busy. He doesn't give you an easy night as a central defender and when he scores, even better. He's doing very well and for the second goal he got there just ahead of his marker and that's a sign that he's sharp."

While Drogba led the line with his power and determination, Anelka, the Premier League's top goalscorer, spent most of the evening out on the left, but that too pleased Hiddink. "Also Anelka, after not having trained so much, he did his job tactically very well. He was always occupying two defenders, the right back and one centre back but he also did well tactically defensively. He impressed me, he did a very good job towards the team's discipline."

He doesn't give you an easy night as a central defender and when he scores, even better. He's doing very well,
Hiddink on Didier Drogba.

The other player to catch the Dutchman's eye was Essien, who made his first start since September and scored his first goal since April. "He's fit, although not game fit. For 90 minutes at this high pace it's tough. His contribution is good and not just because of the goal, on the team it is huge.

"We had to watch him carefully, when the fuel went out of tank after one hour. By playing this game he's getting into his best shape to play 90 minutes."

Chelsea joined Liverpool in the last eight after the five-time European champions thrashed Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield for a 5-0 aggregate victory. It raises the possibility that all four English clubs make it through to the quarter-finals - Manchester United are playing Inter Milan and Arsenal come up against AS Roma on Wednesday - but Hiddink is not concerned about the possibility of meeting English opponents next.

"Liverpool are through as well so that's good for English football. Our next confrontations will all be finals. (Against Juventus) it also could have been a semi-final or final in terms of the potential (of the two teams).

"Now we play only finals, the games are so tight that they can go either way. When you play from now on you play finals and you can play English teams as well but I have no particular preference."