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MATCH HIGHLIGHTS (IN HD):
Well, it wasn’t pretty. Chelsea held on for dear life, defended firmly with patience, and it somehow worked!! They smashed the ball inside the net at the end of the first half when Lampard stole the ball from Messi, launched it down the left-hand flank to the rushing Ramires, who then slid it across the box to our only man on the box -Drogba, who knocked it in. I giggled with delight, caught my breath at halftime, then went back to nervously rocking in the fetal position as Barcelona played keep-away for another 45 minutes, occasionally rattling the post. Two years later when the final whistle blew, I pried my fingers out of the couch armrest, allowed myself to smile and breathe normally for a few minutes, then began wondering if my heart will be able to with-stand the return leg next Tuesday at Barcelona! It was a heroic effort today, far from Chelsea’s best, but they got the job done. Its just half-time now! Next-half to come..
‘In the past, a lot of the public opinion has been that these boys are over the hill, too old to play two games in a week, and to play at this level. They gave an answer on the pitch tonight.’ -Di Matteo
Chelsea defended deeper and deeper, packing the central area in front of their own penalty area and challenging Barcelona to try to break them down. It was testimony to Barcelona’s astonishing ability that they carved out at least six clear chances, had 25 shots and gained more than 70 per cent of the possession.
‘Ultimately, with the quality of some of their individual players, they will still create problems. It was a collective, defensively-great performance,’ said De Matteo. Chelsea will reach their second Champions League final if they avoid defeat in Spain on Tuesday. Di Matteo said: ‘We’re very pleased with the result so far, but we have to play another game. It’s only half-time. Nothing is decided yet.’
Meanwhile, John Terry paid tribute to Drogba after the Ivorian finished a sublime counter-attack to give his side a vital lead ahead of next week’s second leg. Terry told ITV1: ‘We had to be very patient, I don’t think we touched the ball for the first 15 minutes but from Didi on his own up front, the midfield and defence, it was a great team performance. Didi is all about these big nights, the big occasions. He put fear into the Spurs defence at the weekend and he did that again tonight. He was up there on his own against some of best defenders in the world and he did it brilliantly.’The result helps to avenge Chelsea’s controversial defeat to the same opposition at this stage of the competition in 2009, after which Drogba collected a four-match ban – reduced to three on appeal – for his foul-mouthed reaction in front of a television camera.
Also, Chelsea interim head coach Roberto Di Matteo praised Gary Cahill after the Blues beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi final first leg. “Cahill was part of a back four that managed to deny Lionel Messi and co an away goal handing the west Londoners the advantage for the second leg on Tuesday.” “It was a bit of a baptism for Gary,” he said. “He has not played much in the Champions League and it was a difficult game. “But I am very pleased that he played so well, as did the whole back four.”
Di Matteo insisted that Chelsea deserved to win. “When you score a goal and you win the game, you deserve to win it,” he said. “Certainly, they have had more possession and a few more attempts on target, but they always have that. “It’s only half-time. Nothing is decided yet.” John Terry, the Chelsea captain, said: “It will go down as one of the best performances,” he said. “We had to be patient, we didn’t touch the ball in the first 10 or 15 minutes and we had to work very hard. “It was a tireless performance. “Didier Drogba was incredible and that’s what he’s all about.”
Pep Guardiola said that -We knew it was going to be difficult. I felt beforehand that it might cost us a lot of effort to create chances but we managed to do so on many occasions. I was expecting more long balls and throw-ins from Chelsea but that wasn’t the case. Even so, when we passed halfway they were waiting for us, defending deeply and in number. It’s not easy. Congratulations to Chelsea. We had more possession but that doesn’t mean anything; that doesn’t win games. They outjumped us tonight and were physically stronger. We played well, created 24 chances and still lost. We need to create more 14 chances at home in the return leg and hope that some go in. We need to find more ways of creating danger. My players are disappointed but I know them and they will give absolutely everything they have to reach the final. We will need to be patient and ambitious at our stadium. Chelsea are the favourites, though, and a 1-0 win is good for them. Our challenge now is to reverse the result and it is a challenge we accept.
“It was almost perfect. Against Barcelona you have to do a lot of defending and be clinical when you get your chances” -Roberto Di Matteo
“We played well, created 24 chances and still lost – what can you do? We need to create 24 more chances at home in the return” -Josep Guardiola
6 Lessons Learned:
1. Defensive Football Is Still Good Football
2. Lionel Messi Is Human After All
3. Chelsea’s Defense Was Spectacular
4. Didier Drogba Was the Difference-Maker
5. Petr Cech Proved He’s Still One of the Best Keepers in the World
6. Cesc Fabregas Struggled
- Chelsea boss Di Matteo hails Cahill in victory over Barcelona (tribalfootball.com)
- Di Matteo hails Chelsea spirit (guardian.co.uk)
- A Psycho Thriller..Its Chelsea 5 Tottenham 1 (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- Di Matteo gives Chelsea 50% chance of making final (espn.co.uk)
- ‘It’s still 50-50’ – Di Matteo warns of tough second leg after Chelsea beats Barcelona (goal.com)