Ba latched onto a flicked Oscar header to smuggle Chelsea ahead after only ten minutes but from then on the match produced few chances and little excitement as the home side progressed ahead of Schalke.
Jose Mourinho’s men needed victory to guarantee top spot and a likely more favourable quarter-final draw and were comfortably the better side from the outset as the Chelsea boss made seven changes from the team that lost to Stoke City.
But the big Aussie rarely had a save to make and it was Oscar and Ba who combined to put Chelsea ahead, the striker getting on the end of the Brazilian’s flicked header to steer the ball past Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Mourinho tried to inject a little more urgency in the second half, bringing on Ramires, Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schuerrle but his side still failed to carve out much against a resolute, if uninspiring Steaua.
2’ – CHANCE FOR LUIZ: Ivanovic wins Chelsea an early corner and Willian finds Luiz with a good delivery but the returning Brazilian fluffs his side-footed effort
9’ – BA SCORES FOR CHELSEA: Oscar flicks on the corner to Ba at the far post and he gets something on it with Georgievski in close attendance.
12’ – BIG MISS FOR STEAUA: Pintilii plays in Iancu with a lovely ball and he’s in on goal behind Terry but slides his shot wide as Schwarzer stands big.
26’ – GOOD SAVE: Hazard’s cross is met by Ivanovic’s header but Tatarusanu does well to parry over a reaction save. Should have scored.
52’ – AMAZING MISS BA: Willian plays in a great ball and it looks like a tap in but Ba somehow heels it over the bar.
70’ – BIG MISS HAZARD: It’s not quite on the level of Ba’s miss but Hazard should have buried his header instead of putting it over form a few yards out.
86’ – BA GOAL RULED OUT: The big man has it in the net from Lampard’s neat pass but he is flagged offside. And he is. Just!
At 41 years of age, Mark Schwarzer becomes the third oldest player to play in the Champions League and the oldest to make his debut in the competition.
Branislav Ivanovic made his 50th European appearance for Chelsea.
Steaua have now gone 23 Champions League matches without a win. A new record.
TALKING POINT: What has happened to Chelsea’s attacking potency? Mourinho must be a worried man as his side managed eight attempts on target but only about four clear-cut chances. He topped the group but must be a worried man.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eden Hazard, Chelsea - Has impressed in his last three outings for Chelsea but has had little reward aside from his brace against Sunderland. Needs some of his strike partners to stand up.
Chelsea: Schwarzer 6; Ivanovic 6, D Luiz 6, Terry 6, Cole 6; Mikel 6, Lampard 7; Willian 6, Oscar 6, Hazard 8; Ba 7. SUBS: Ramires 6, De Bruyne 6, Schurrle 7.
Steaua: Tatarusanu 6, Szukata 7, Gardoş 6, Latovlevici 5, Georgievski 7, Pintilii 6, Chipciu 6, Pirvulescu 7, Stanciu 6, Iancu 7, Kapetanos 6. SUBS: Prepelita 6, Tatu 6, Piovaccari 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET