What a night this was!! This old stadium has seen some spectacular European occasions such as when Chelsea thumped Barcelona 4-2 in 2005. But this tumultuous evening matched them all. Napoli arrived 3-1 ahead in the tie and with a reputation as one of Europe’s most formidable attacking units. They did not disappoint either, in a match that ebbed and flowed in the most enthralling fashion. First Drogba pulled the Blues back into it. Then Terry headed them level. Gokhan Inler threatened heartbreak when he scored, but Lampard’s nerveless penalty and then Branislav Ivanovic’s rocket in extra-time sparked pandemonium. So Chelsea are English football’s last men standing in Europe’s top competition as they await the quarter-final draw and who would have predicted that a month ago as they floundered in the mire of Andre Villas-Boas’ doomed reign? With 3 victories under his belt and a light touch and trust in the old guard that Villas-Boas so badly lacked, Di Matteo is quietly making a case for himself to be given this job permanently. Too soon to say that perhaps, but then this is a fair old start.
The result means the Blues became only the fourth club in 45 attempts to come back from losing a first leg by two or more goals, ensuring England’s run of having at least one Champions League quarter-finalist since 1996 continues. Only three times out of 44 ties had a team overcome a two-goal, or more, gap in the Champions League. But Chelsea, despite some hairy moments, deserved this famous victory. And Drogba, at 34 the oldest man in the team and perhaps destined for China at season’s end, was simply immense.
David Luiz and Ramires:
David Luiz and Ramires were both strong contenders for Man of the Match as Chelsea overcame a two-goal first-leg deficit to beat Napoli 4-1 (5-4 on aggregate) in extra-time. David Luiz, 24, who had earlier in the day been included in Brazil’s preliminary squad for the Olympic Games this summer, gave what many have described as his finest performance in a Chelsea shirt as the Blues silenced Napoli’s much-heralded attacking unit. The former Vítoria defender was composed in his defensive duties and dealt with Edinson Cavani with aplomb, before later in the game showing glimpses of his talents in attacking areas. For Ramires it was a case of doing what he does best. Played on the left-flank by manager Roberto Di Matteo, Ramires provided an ever-willing out-ball for his side and also gave Ashley Cole impressive defensive cover. Ramires has had a fine campaign so far and would be a strong contender for Chelsea’s Player of the Season so far.
“Chelsea knew they had a huge challenge on their hands keeping a clean sheet against free-scoring Napoli”
- Di Matteo overshadowed by captain on eve of biggest test (independent.co.uk)
- Drogba’s Century Proves Vital….Its Chelsea 1 Stoke City 0 (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- UEFA Champions League: Chelsea Need Comeback, Real Madrid Have Advantage (sbnation.com)
- #Chelsea and Real #Madrid triumph to advance to UCL Quarterfinals (welcometothe716.com)
- Chelsea Fired Up for Napoli Salvage Job (nytimes.com)