“F***********ING YES!!” That was the guttural nonsense I screamed as Fernando Torres scored Chelsea’s second goal of the match and secured the Blues’ passage to the Champions League final with a 3-2 aggregate score over Barcelona. The odds of this occurring were slim and made even more slim by the sending off of John Terry halfway through the first. Barca were able to score two before the break, but Ramires got Chelsea level on aggregate by plucking one just before the whistle. The Blues parked the bus for 45 brilliant minutes before Torres latched on to a clearance and scored perhaps the biggest goal in the club’s history.
An incredible match looked to be heading Barcelona’s way after first-half goals from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. And with Chelsea down to 10 men, after John Terry was sent off for an off-the-ball challenge on Alexis Sanchez, there seemed no way back for the visitors. But Ramires scored an sublime goal at the end of the first half and after Lionel Messi missed a penalty, substitute Fernando Torres secured Chelsea’s progress in injury time. Pep Guardiola named a surprise starting lineup that featured a back three, including Gerard Pique, and no Dani Alves. But both sides soon had to make changes to their lineup though. Pique for Barcelona and Gary Cahill for Chelsea were both forced off with injuries in the first 45 minutes.
Barcelona dominated possession, but continued to struggle to find a way through. But the Catalans finally got their first goal in the tie 35 minutes into this second-leg. After Chelsea failed to readjust following the half-clearance of a corner, Dani Alves found Isaac Cuenca in some space down the left of the area. The youngster laid the ball across the box and Sergio Busquets was there to finish into a virtually empty net. And things got better for Barcelona just two minutes later. Inexplicably, Chelsea captain John Terry put his knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez off the ball and was rightly sent off after the referee had been alerted to the incident by his assistant. Sanchez and Barcelona may have made the most of it, but that was a crazy act by Terry for which there can be no defense. Trying desperately to cling on till half-time, Chelsea fell two goals behind on the night and 2-1 on aggregate with a clinical goal from Andres Iniesta. Lionel Messi finally found some space and played a perfectly timed ball through to Iniesta who side-footed the ball past Petr Cech and into the bottom right corner. And that seemed to be that. But Chelsea had other ideas and came back into the game in sensational fashion in first-half injury time. Out of nowhere Frank Lampard slipped the ball through to Ramires who unleashed a sublime chip over the head of Victor Valdes and into the back of the net. It was a crucial goal that meant the 10-man Blues were leading the tie on away goals going into the break.
It looked as if Barcelona would restore their advantage after the restart when Drogba brought down Fabregas for a clear penalty. But, incredibly, in a tie of missed chances for Barcelona, Messi of all people hit his spot-kick back off the cross bar! Chelsea continued to defend resolutely and when Barcelona did break through, Cech saved them. The closest Bacelona came to getting what would surely have been a decisive goal coming when Messi’s low drive was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Chelsea’s Czech keeper. All that was left was for a fairy-tale ending as substitute Fernando Torres, who has cut a forlorn figure during his 14 months at Stamford Bridge, sprinted clear and rounded Valdes to slot into the empty net and send all at Chelsea into jubilation.
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MATCH HIGHLIGHTS (IN HD):
Di Matteo will be without not only Terry, but Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles for the final after the trio all picked up second bookings in the tournament, meaning a one-match suspension. Gary Cahill’s season could be in doubt too after he appeared to pull a hamstring when stretching for the ball in the opening minutes of the match. Portuguese David Luiz will start the 19 May final against either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, providing he regains fitness in time for the Munich event.
Terry, who initially claimed he did not deliberately knee Chilean Sanchez, apologised for his rashness in a post-match interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves. “It does look bad on the replay. I raised my knee but hopefully the people out there who know me, know I’m not that kind of player. “I feel as though I let them (team-mates) down. I have apologised to them and I apologise to the Chelsea fans. At the time I was bewildered, but looking at the replay it looks a red card. On a personal note, of course (it hurts I miss the final). But we deserve to be in the Champions League final. I really hope that doesn’t take away from this win.” The Chelsea captain will be banned for three European matches, and Frank Lampard now looks set to skipper the team in their second Champions League final. Chelsea’s Herculean effort has ensured a second European Cup final in the club’s history, and they have under a month until they get their chance to exorcise the ghost of Moscow 2008.
Ivanovic confused when realized he is out for finals with suspension.. (VIDEO ↓)
6 Things Learned After Incredible Game:
1. Petr Cech Is the Best Keeper in the World
For the second straight Champions League match, Cech put on an utterly brilliant performance against the most prolific attack this game has ever seen. He knew from the moment that they were drawn against Barca that he would have to be perfect to ensure Chelsea get by, and he was. The two scored against him tonight were in no way his fault, but that victory should hoist him above anyone else for the discussion of who is the best. Yes, he had more than his fair share of excellent saves, but that is just the empirical data contrived off of what we saw. His argument for supremacy extends much deeper than that. He is a psychological master who can alter the belief a team has in itself and the confidence of its shooters. You think one of the game’s best goal scorers of all time would miss a penalty against any keeper? You think those through balls Barca routinely put away with ease just happened to be off today? All of that is the consequence of knowing that anything but absolute perfection will be saved with ease. And that is the reason Cech is the best keeper in the world.
2. Lionel Messi Will Never Score Against Chelsea
It was just another game where Messi failed to get on the score sheet, and in the end, it cost them. He did not have a terrible performance, but it certainly was not one we have come to expect out of him. He was pedestrian on the ball, trying to always weave his way through like he does routinely in La Liga. But every time he did, Frank Lampard and Raul Meireles were there to usher him out wide, never giving up that inside lane to the net. Don’t take anything away from the Chelsea defenders, but there is something of a mental block that keeps Messi from being Messi against the Blues.
3. Ramires Is Becoming a Legend
At the start of the season when all was going wrong, Ramires seemed to be the only bit of hope Chelsea fans had. He began to fade away in the middle of the season as injuries and fatigue got to him. But in both legs of this tie, he has come on to be one of those players that has all the makings of a legend. His speed is undeniable, as it caused fits for the Barca defenders the few times they were attacked and, of course, led to the first goal just before half. Unfortunately for Ramires, he will not be able to cement this status in the final, as he will be suspended. But there is plenty of more time in his career to make him a true Stamford Bridge great.
4. Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole Are More Than Legends
I have to admit my being a bad fan for a moment and say that I thought Chelsea were done after the second Barca goal. Playing down a man with all the momentum headed toward the Spaniards, it was hard to see otherwise. But thankfully, I was wrong, and it was all because of three players. The win was a combined effort of all the players on the field, but the leadership and incredible defensive display by these three players had to make even the most diehard Barca fan applaud. Branislav Ivanovic became the man to lead the back line after Cahill was subbed with an injury and Terry got his red card. But he executed that role to perfection, keeping them in order and making sure they never conceded the space Barca likes to play in. He also threw his body into countless shots. Ashley Cole was forced to come more towards the middle than he prefers and play more as a positional defender than attacking on the outside. He, too, was perfect, making the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and even Lionel Messi struggle to be comfortable whenever they were on the ball. Frank Lampard was amazing. I think it is safe to say now that in two consecutive games, Lamps outplayed Messi and was the most influential player on the pitch for either side. He got the assist on Ramires’ goal, but the amount of time he dispossessed the Barca midfielders or at least turned them away was more telling of his match.
5. FCB Fans Will Have to Be More Creative Than Their Team
Man advantage for more than a half. A penalty kick. Three times the possession. More shots, and shots on target. At home. What more excuses can Barcelona fans find for the reason their team lost? Chelsea were the better team last week and the better team today—not just because they advanced to the Champions League finals, but because they did it with utter perfection.
6. That Was the Greatest Win in Chelsea History
Few expected Chelsea to get by Barca at Camp Nou, and no oneexpected them to do it down a man. But Chelsea did what they do best: persevere. If there was one word to describe this team, it would be “survivors.” They claw on the edge of death so many times, just tinkering with the idea of letting go, but never cede to the expectations of nonbelievers. Chelsea are not better than Barcelona. They do not have the skill, the talent or even the confidence that the Catalans have—but none of that matters when you are a survivor. It’s all about doing enough to get you by. The glitz and glam of passing and tapping the ball around the pitch means nothing when the other side will not die. This was the greatest win in Chelsea history, not because they won against the odds—they have been doing that for years. It is because they did it their way; they did it the Chelsea way.
“A lot of people have written us off and we showed again the kind of character our players have,” the Italian told Sky Sports.“We didn’t expect to play with 10 men. We knew it was going to be tough and it was even more difficult than we expected. “Barcelona are a great team with some fantastic players and we just showed what we are made of. We achieved something incredible tonight and when it is the right time we will be thinking about the final. “The second half wasn’t much about tactics. It was about the pressure and the pride, the desire to go to the final. We were 45 minutes away and that is what the second half was about. “The belief was always there. We wouldn’t be in the final if we didn’t believe we could get to the final,” he confessed.
- Here We Come Barcelona…..Its Chelsea 2 Benfica 1 (agg 3-1) (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- Messi misery as 10-man Chelsea stun Barcelona (dawn.com)
- Chelsea beat Barcelona; Advance to the UCL Final (welcometothe716.com)
- Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona: Drogba strike ensures Blues take Champions League semifinal lead to Camp Nou (goal.com)
- 10-man Chelsea eliminate Barcelona (timesofmalta.com)