Chelsea's youngsters helped them secure top spot in Group F as they came from a goal down to beat MSK Zilina.
Zilina took a shock lead when Babatounde Bello played a neat one-two with Robert Jez and poked in a shot.
But Chelsea's pressure told when Daniel Sturridge slotted in a Salomon Kalou cross at the far post.
Chelsea strived for a winner and, after Didier Drogba and Patrick van Aanholt were denied by the woodwork, Florent Malouda stole in to side-foot home.
Malouda's late strike should earn Chelsea some respite from their recent troubles on a night when the club's young players also gained vital experience in their development.
Sturridge was the most impressive of the five-strong contingent of promising prospects, while holding midfielder Josh McEachran belied his 17 years to, like Chelsea, grow into a game the home side ultimately dominated having only been sparked into life after going a goal down.
The Blues had already secured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League before the match but the game had taken on extra significance after the club's recent poor form, the ill-managed exit of assistant manager Ray Wilkins and question marks being raised over Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti's future.
Having lost three out of four league games and in desperate need of a morale-boosting win, Ancelotti refused to let the strain on his side stop him from giving his up-and-coming brigade the chance to impress.
Chelsea's starting line-up averaged 24 years and 164 days, with McEachran, Jeffrey Bruma, 19, Van Aanholt, 20, Gael Kakuta, 19 and 21-year-old Sturridge thrust into the limelight.
Ancelotti disappointed with slow start
Initially, they failed to show the vibrancy their youthful years might have suggested and, after a sedate opening, Zilina shocked them by taking the lead.
Bello laid the ball off to Jez, received the return pass as he ran through the gap between centre-back Bruma and right-back Paulo Ferreira and stabbed in a shot past keeper Ross Turnbull.
The goal was only Zilina's second in the group phase of the competition this season, both coming against Chelsea, but it served to give Group F's whipping boys hope of an upset.
And they almost doubled their lead when Tomas Majtan was allowed to run at goal from the left before his angled shot was beaten away Turnbull.
However, Zilina had also conceded 15 goals in their four games going into the game at Stamford Bridge and they were left to rue that miss as Chelsea belatedly showed an increased intensity and urgency.
Sturridge was proving the home side's most likely source of an equaliser, although he wasted one chance when he shot wide instead of squaring the ball to the better-placed Drogba.
A curling 20-yard shot from Sturridge was also palmed away before Malouda failed to get enough purchase and direction on a near-post header as keeper Martin Dubravka saved.
The pressure from Chelsea was now piling on and eventually told when England Under-21 international Sturridge was rewarded for his anticipation as he side-footed in after a cross from half-time substitute Kalou was allowed to reach the far post.
Drogba sent a header straight at Dubravka and a 25-yard shot from Ramires swerved just the wrong side of the upright as Zilina's goal lived a charmed life.
And, it was only the woodwork which was coming to the visitors' rescue, with a Drogba free-kick being palmed on to post and Van Aanholt arrowing a sweetly struck strike against the post.
However, Chelsea's persistence paid off when Nicolas Anelka's cross was nodded down by Drogba and Malouda latched on to the knock-down by side-footing in a shot from point-blank range as the home side kept up their 100% record in this season's Champions League.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.