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Chelsea (Essien 9′) 1-1 Barcelona (Iniesta 90′ + 3) (Barcelona win 1-1 on Aggregate on Away Goals Rule)
Stadium: Stamford Bridge, England
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Semifinals, Leg #2
Date: 6 May 2009
Kickoff: 18:45 GMT, 14:45 EST
Barcelona pulled off a great escape and eliminated Chelsea to advance to the Champions League Final! Soccerlens brought you the action live! You can see the goals from the Chelsea-Barcelona game here, or click below for the minute-by-minute live-blog. Make sure to share your thoughts about the game in the comments!
The old adage goes “offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” If that’s the case, then Chelsea’s performance in the first leg against Barcelona was Treble caliber. Guus Hiddink’s men rarely ventured forward and seemed content to eke out a scoreless draw. Their hope was to take a 0-0 scoreline into the second leg at Stamford Bridge, where they’ll take on a more offensive posture against a club that hasn’t played nearly as well on the road in Europe as they have at home.
Indeed, heading into this past weekend, you could argue that Barcelona haven’t been in the best of form. They drew with Valencia which opened the door for Real Madrid to close the gap in La Liga. They haven’t won on the road in Europe since November, when they defeated Sporting Lisbon. However, then came Saturday’s 6-2 demolition of Real Madrid in El Clasico. Barcelona confirmed their credentials as the most dangerous and dynamic offensive team in Europe and dismantled one of the hottest teams in recent history in Real Madrid. Their big guns, especially Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta, were quiet in the first leg, but were in excellent form over the weekend and will be looking to prove that the first leg was a fluke. Most importantly, they know that they don’t have to win at Stamford Bridge in order to advance. Any goal that they score will give them an advantage over Chelsea, and any scored draw will send them through to the Finals.
Chelsea, however, have reason to feel confident going into this match. They’ll be getting Ashley Cole back from suspension, and he’ll be able to mark Messi, allowing Jose Bosingwa (who did a respectable job) to move back to his natural position at right-back. They should also have Alex and Michael Ballack available, despite both players leaving last weekend’s match with Fulham with slight knocks. Moreover, Chelsea can take heart knowing that Barcelona have been suspect on defense all year, and they were burned for two goals on set-plays by an otherwise impotent Real Madrid side. Chelsea have scored numerous goals on set-pieces this year, and we need look no further than the first leg of the Liverpool tie to see that. They’ll need all hands on deck, especially if Barcelona bring their scoring boots that they used to humble Real Madrid.
Hopefully, we should see a more wide-open and entertaining game than the first leg. Will Barcelona continue their offensive rampage and overwhelm Chelsea at Stamford Bridge? Or will Chelsea prevail and make it to their second consecutive Finals? Tune in and find out!
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry (c), A. Cole, Essien, Ballack, Malouda, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Mikel, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne.
Chelsea will make only one change from the side that defeated Fulham over the weekend, bringing back Ballack in favor of the defensive-minded Mikel. That, along with Anelka’s place in the starting lineup, could indicate that Chelsea will have their attacking boots on. Otherwise, they would have gone with their lineup in Barcelona last week and simply played for penalty kicks. Ashley Cole is back in the lineup after his suspension, and will be tasked with stopping Lionel Messi.
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Toure, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi (c), Keita, Messi, Iniesta, Eto’o.
Subs: Pinto, Caceres, Gudjohnsen, Bojan, Sylvinho, Hleb, Pedro.
As expected, Barca will be without Thierry Henry, who sustained an injury during the weekend’s victory over Real Madrid. Barca will start with Toure at center-half in place of the suspended Puyol. Busquets will come into the lineup to sit in front of the defense, and Keita will start alongside Xavi in midfield. As with the first leg, former Chelsea man, Gudjohnsen, will be available off the bench, as will former Arsenal players Hleb and Sylvinho.
Post Match Apparently, it’s pandemonium at Stamford Bridge, and Drogba has not helped matters by getting in Tom Henning Ovrebo’s face and launching into a long and nasty tirade. He’s booked (as if he cares at this point) and has to be restrained. Well, I can sympathize with Chelsea, but they’re really acting like a bunch of sore losers. Remember how they were the worst behaved team in Europe last season? Every time a ref made a decision against them, it seemed like John Terry, Michael Ballack, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, and Didier Drogba would surround the ref and look like they were going to do a gang assault on him? I guess that Chelsea never really went away. Get over it guys. You lost.
90′ + 7 Eto’o comes off and Sylvinho will replace him. Chelsea win a free kick and Cech comes up for it. They can’t do much with it, though, as there’s the whistle and we’re done! Chelsea players are bum-rushing the ref and are really giving him a earful. They feel jobbed, and it’s hard to argue. However, Barcelona have pulled off a great escape and will meet Manchester United in the Final! Thanks to everyone who followed along! I’ll see you next time!
90′ + 6 Cech comes up for the corner and Lampard plays it into the box for him. It’s knocked out to Ballack and he tries a hard shot that looks like it might have hit Eto’o’s shoulder! No call from the ref and Ballack is incensed. In fact, he looks like he’s trying to grab the ref and beat him up. I’m actually afraid for this ref’s safety. Needless to say, Ballack’s booked and he’ll miss the next match.
90′ + 5 Chelsea look shell-shocked, but they win a corner. Barcelona make a change as Iniesta will come off for Gudjohnsen.
90′ + 3 GOAL!! Wow! What a heartbreaker! Alves lifts a cross from the right and Terry heads it away. Essien whiffs on his clearance attempt and Messi corrals it inside the box. He sends it out to Iniesta, and he fires a shot from the center edge of the box and he beats Cech to the top right corner!
90′ + 1 Four minutes will be added on. Essien gives it away poorly, and Messi’s pass to Pique on the center edge of the box is taken away by Lampard. Eto’o is booked for mouthing off to the ref and he’s clearly had a frustrating night. Belletti gets through, but his shot is wide of the post.
90′ Alves with a long cross from the top-right edge of the penalty area to the far post. Eto’o tries valiantly to keep it from going out, but the linesman rules that it crossed the line.
89′ Lampard wins a corner and, for some reason, Guardiola hugs Hiddink. What’s that about? Is he conceding defeat already? Nothing doing on the corner as Chelsea are called for a foul.
88′ Iniesta and Messi play a one-two on the center edge of the penalty area and Messi takes a tumble. No call, though.
87′ Lampard gets free down the left edge of the box, and he sends it back to a trailing Essien. His shot is easily blocked by Pique, though.
86′ Lampard’s pass to Anelka is poor and Pique cuts it out. Malouda wins it back, but he loses it before he can do anything with it.
85′ Busquets is off for Krkic. Will that make a difference?
84′ Messi with a terrible cross and he’s been mediocre tonight. Let’s say that the score, right now, is Ronaldo 1, Messi 0.
83′ Lampard wins a corner off Pique. Chelsea take their time setting this up, and you can’t blame them. Malouda’s corner is easily cleared away from danger.
82′ Long pass into the box for Anelka, and it looks like Pique hands it inside the box. No call from the ref, and on the replay, it looked like a clear penalty. Pique got away with one there.
80′ Alves whips a cross from the right but Alex heads it away. It’s into some space and Pique gets it. He tries a shot, but it’s just wide of the post.
79′ Toure makes a mistake as he misjudges the long pass to Anelka. The French forward is away from him and he goes down under the contact from Toure. No penalty call, though, and it would have been a soft penalty had it been given.
78′ Alves takes the free kick from about 30 yards out, but it’s just over the crossbar.
77′ Alex muffs his clearance as he slips on the pitch as he tries to kick it away. Messi pounces on it, and Alex catches him in the midsection with a nicely placed kick. That’s a yellow for Alex, and he’ll miss the Final.
76′ Essien plays it through to Anelka and he’s got a great chance in the box. Too bad he’s flagged offside. So much for that.
75′ Messi gets away from Terry and he sends it to Alves. He crosses it into the box, but Ballack is back there and he heads it away.
74′ Essien is booked for a late tackle on Iniesta.
72′ Drogba will come off and he gets a deserved ovation from the Chelsea fans. Belletti, the former Barca man, will replace him.
71′ Drogba is still limping around, and he’s probably going to come off. Lampard takes a good shot from the edge of the box. It takes a bit of a deflection, but Valdes makes the diving save.
70′ So, if Barca make it to the Final, they’ll be missing their starting left-back and their starting right-back. I bet Sir Alex is rooting hard for Barca right now.
69′ Drogba limps off the pitch so it’ll be 10-on-10 for now. Lampard takes the free kick from about 25 yards out, but his low effort flashes wide of the far post.
66′ RED CARD! Pique and Drogba go for the 50-50 ball in the air, and they both miss. It bounces to Anelka, and Abidal brings down him outside the box and he’s off for committing the professional foul! But wait! On the replay, it looks like Abidal barely touched him. It looks like Fletcher isn’t the only one with a complaint about the officiating. Anyway, it’s no matter as he’s off and Barca are in a huge hole.
65′ Messi gets away from Cole and cuts across the edge of the penalty area. He tries a speculative shot, but it’s over the crossbar.
64′ Drogba is giving them all kinds of problems today, and he gets it inside the box yet again. This time, he gets held up and Barca are able to knock it away.
63′ Iniesta makes a nice run into the box and he tries to thread it through to Eto’o. It’s out of his reach, though, and Eto’o has some choice words for his teammate.
62′ Drogba takes a dive inside the box as Abidal barely touches him and he’s clearly trying to win a penalty to make up for that no-call earlier. Like any great actor, Drogba commits to it and Chelsea even bring out their medical staff to tend to him. Not even Daniel Day-Lewis is that devoted of an actor.
61′ Keita with a nice bit of skill to take it on a half-volley, but it’s not even close to bothering Cech.
60′ Terrible corner from Xavi as he plays it low and it’s right to Drogba on the near edge of the box. Pique then sends it through to Alves, but he unleashes a terrible cross from the right wing.
59′ Messi nearly threads it through to Eto’o, and Alex stumbles and falls. Luckily for him, Bosingwa is there to cover for him, and he kicks it away. Malouda then gives away a corner.
56′ Malouda with an optimistic effort from long range, but it’s not even close. Drogba gets it inside the box and Toure is grabbing his arm and shirt. How that’s not a foul, I don’t know. He eventually slides in and knocks it away, and Drogba wants a penalty. No call and I don’t disagree with the tackle in the box, but Drogba was clearly fouled outside the penalty area. Oh well.
55′ Terrible long-range shot from Alves and he’s not winning any admirers tonight.
54′ Great ball by Toure and Alves gets it deep down the right. He sends a cross into the center of the box, but it’s between two players.
52′ Anelka with a nice run into the box and he finds an unmarked Drogba in the box. He eludes a sliding Pique and looks to have Valdes at his mercy. He fires a low shot and Valdes saves it with his feet. Malouda tries to follow up, but he hits the side netting. Wow. Valdes came up huge there.
51′ Iniesta with a clever ball into the box from the left wing, but it bounces awkwardly for Keita, who can’t handle it.
50′ Xavi sends it to the near post again, but this time, Essien clears it away.
49′ Busquets with a nice run into the box, and he flicks it over-the-top to Keita. It’s off Ballack for a corner. Xavi’s corner strikes Toure at the near post and it’s out, but Barca gets another corner.
47′ They’re only about 30 yards out or so, and the free kick will come in from left side of the field. Xavi touches it to Iniesta at the center edge of the box, and he touches it back to Alves. He shanks it wide and Guardiola is incensed. Not their best effort there as they were trying to be a little too cute and it cost them.
46′ Chelsea will kick off and we’re underway! No changes for either side at the half. Iniesta gets fouled close to the edge of the box, and they’ll have a great chance here.
46′ I would have thought that Manchester United would want to face Chelsea, especially with the way they’ve handled them this season. But after that first half, I think they’d take Barcelona in a heartbeat.
Well, as Yogi Berra once said, it’s like deja-vu all over again. Much like last season’s semifinal, Barca were held scoreless at home and then fell victim to a long-range strike early in the second leg to their English opponents. Said English opponents then defended the one-goal lead and held on to eliminate Barca from the competition. Could history repeat itself here tonight? So far, it looks like it will. Barca have yet to solve Chelsea’s defense, and now that Chelsea have a lead to protect, you can expect more of the same tactics that they employed in the first leg. We will see what Barca are made out of as they try to get that all-important away-goal.
45′ + 3 Messi takes on the entire Chelsea defense and he lays it off to Alves down the right. His cross is defected out for a corner. Barca play it short and Xavi eventually gets the shot opportunity on the edge of the box. It’s out and Xavi claims he’s won a corner. No matter, though, as there’s the whistle and we’re at halftime!
45′ + 2 Bosingwa gets it and actually moves back towards his own penalty area. He’s under a lot of pressure from Iniesta, but he gets it away.
45′ + 1 There will be three added minutes.
45′ Drogba gets it to Anelka, and he makes the run down the right. He can’t get away from his defender, though, and he gives it away to Valdes.
43′ Lampard tries to send the corner to Ballack, but he can’t control his header. It’s out for a Chelsea throw.
42′ Toure gives away a free kick, and Lampard will take it from about 35 yards out. He tries to set up his teammates, since Barca are so vulnerable on set pieces. Toure eventually nods Lampard’s freebie out for a corner.
41′ Alves wins a corner as his cross is knocked out by Bosingwa. They take it quickly and Messi eventually sends a long cross from the right to the far post for Eto’o, but gets flat-footed and it’s out for a goal-kick.
40′ Tommy Smyth actually makes a good point (!). He mentions that Barcelona look like they’re getting rid of the ball more quickly than usual and that it’s wrecking havoc with their usual offensive rhythm. It’s like they’re afraid of getting hit by the Chelsea players and are more worried about that than anything else. In other words, he’s calling them soft.
39′ Messi sends it into the box for Xavi, but it’s long and out for a goal-kick.
38′ Messi turns on the wheels and burns Cole down the right. He has Eto’o in the box, but Messi decides to go for goal, instead. He’s got a poor angle and his shot is easily handled by Cech.
37′ Iniesta is fouled by Bosingwa near the centerline. Eto’o threads it through to Messi down the right. He curls a shot on goal that gives Cech some problems. He’s able to handle it, though, and that’s really the first thing Messi has done today.
35′ Cech kicks it away and Drogba gets it on the edge of the penalty area. He heads it forward to Malouda, but Valdes is out to take it.
31′ Lampard is on the ground after he catches an elbow from Keita. He looks like he might be bleeding from the mouth. He’ll come off to receive treatment, but he should be okay. He’s been excellent, thus far.
30′ Alves gets booked for a flying elbow on Cole. Stupid play and he’s suspended for the Final if Barca make it. Well, it was coming.
29′ Xavi with a nice pass to Iniesta and he tries a shot that’s well off the mark.
28′ Xavi chips a great pass from the edge of the box to the right post where Alves tries to head it in. He’s called for a foul, though, and Cech will kick it away.
27′ Great pass into the box by Lampard for Drogba and Abidal grabs him by the shirt. Drogba goes down and Valdes is there to take it away. No penalty call, and I have to disagree with the ref here. Abidal looked like he fouled him.
26′ Chelsea are really taking it to them right now, aren’t they? So much for anti-football.
25′ Drogba fires it to the far post, but Valdes just gets a touch on it and concedes the corner. On the corner, Terry gets his head on it, but it’s just wide of the post.
24′ Malouda makes a run down the left and Alves fouls him on the edge of the box. It looked like the foul might have occurred in the box, but the ref won’t award the penalty. Now, Chelsea will have a free kick from the lower left corner of the penalty box.
23′ Lampard flicks it forward and Drogba gets behind Toure and Pique! Drogba has a chance, but Valdes is alert and kicks it away. Great play by the keeper, because Drogba could have chipped it past him and had an open net to shoot at.
21′ Iniesta is fouled from about 35 yards out by Anelka. They’ll have a good chance here, especially with Alves kicking it. He kicks it and gets it over the wall. However, it travels well wide of the post and Cech had it well covered anyway.
20′ Messi tries to play it into the path of Eto’o down the left, but Cech comes out to collect it. He almost collided with Alex there, but Cech was able to get to it first.
18′ Alves runs over Malouda and he’s called for a foul. No booking, though.
17′ Malouda gets it and he’s got a ton of space along the left. He lays it back to Lampard, and he tries a shot from inside the box that is just wide. He was unmarked and probably should have done a little bit better with that shot, but Valdes closed off the near post well.
16′ Messi and Xavi try to play a one-two on the edge of the box, but Xavi loses it. He takes a tumble, but no call from the ref.
15′ Iniesta passes it long into the path of a hard-charging Xavi, but it’s just beyond his grasp and it’s out for a goal-kick.
14′ Eto’o tries to make a move inside the box, but he loses it. Anelka takes it, but he’s run over by Busquets. Yeah, both Anelka and Drogba are back defending, so I guess we know what they’re going to do here.
13′ Bosingwa gives away a free kick from about 40 yards out on the left flank near the end-line. Xavi’s free kick is easily cleared from danger, and he’ll have to do better than that if he wants to make Chelsea’s defense sweat.
12′ Xavi tries to pass it to Eto’o at the left edge of the box, but the pass is behind him and out for a Chelsea throw.
11′ Barca win a corner but Drogba clears it away. Will Chelsea go into their shell now?
9′ GOAL!! Xavi tries a long pass to Keita, who gets in front of Alex. However, the pass is long and Cech will kick it away. Chelsea come back as Cole slides in a pass into the box for Lampard. He tries to turn and fire, but his shot is blocked. It’s deflected out off Toure’s back to the Essien, who volleys it from outside the penalty area, and he clips the shot under the crossbar and it bounces over the line! Wow! What a shot form Essien!
7′ Messi plays it through to Alves, who makes the run down the right. He tries to whip a cross to the far post for Iniesta, but it’s out for a Chelsea throw.
5′ Alves is inside the box and he chips it to Messi deep down the right edge of the box. Messi tries a cross, and it looks like it may have gone off Ballack’s hand. No handball, though, and Bosingwa eventually clears it away.
3′ Messi makes a run into the box from the left, but Terry closes him down and makes the great defensive play to take it away.
2′ Terry plays Drogba through the middle, Drogba’s touch is poor and he gives it away. He would have been through on goal if he hadn’t done that. Eto’o then comes back and tries a long-range shot, but it’s well wide and doesn’t trouble Cech.
1′ Barca kick off and we’re underway! Tom Henning Ovrebo is our referee. Messi tries to get around Cole, but he has him well played. Ballack is also back to help out and they take it away.
0′ The Chammmmm-pionnnnns!
0′ Let’s hope that the presence of Anelka means that Chelsea are going to actually play some offense today. I don’t have a problem with what they did in the first leg, at least not compared to some people who have labeled their tactics as “cowardly,” “negative,” or “anti-football.” I mean, you have to put your team in the best position to advance, and they certainly did that. If they had gone with an open-approach and lost like Real Madrid did over the weekend, then that would have been foolhardy, right?
0′ From the “Let’s Not Get Ahead of Ourselves” Dept. A lot of Barcelona fans think that, just because they thrashed Real Madrid on Saturday, that they’ll be in great form for this match. Not so fast. Real Madrid’s defense is hardly anything to write home about. Plus, Barca have not faced stiff competition in Europe, thus far. They took out an overmatched Lyon side in the Round of 16 (and couldn’t win on Lyon’s home pitch), and outclassed a Bayern Munich side that recently fired their manager and may not qualify for Champions League play next season.
0′ One last note about yesterday’s Arsenal/Manchester United match. We knew that the Gunners were caught with their pants down, but Nicklas Bendtner seems to have taken that literally. Apparently, he wears briefs, which is more than I ever wanted to know about him.
0′ One word about Darren Fletcher, because I didn’t think of it until after the game was long over. You have to feel for him as a human being. Burglars broke into his house when he was out of town, getting ready to play at Inter Milan. They held his family at knifepoint and threatened to cut his fiance’s throat. Fletcher could have gone home and left his team, but he was professional about it. Not only did Fletcher play against Inter Milan, but he did a decent job. I remember thinking that he looked like he was about to break down and cry during the playing of the UEFA Anthem before the match. You had to feel for him then, and you certainly have to feel for him now. For him to miss the Final, on a disputed foul no less, seems incredibly unfair after everything he’s gone through.
0′ Who will join Darren Fletcher on the sidelines if they pick up another yellow today? For Chelsea, Michael Ballack, Alex, and Nicholas Anelka had better be on their best behavior. For Barcelona, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves better watch themselves.
0′ Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the UEFA Champions League Semifinals between Chelsea and Barcelona! The winner will face Manchester United in the Finals from Rome on May 27, 2009! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger! I’m watching this match on ESPN. However, this match is available, on-line, at ESPN360. For information on how to access that fine service, feel free to consult this article. Click here for other, free, options.
Chelsea dominated the entire match and looked set to book a Finals rematch with Manchester United. Then Iniesta scored and Barcelona pulled it off. Chelsea are right to be upset with the officiating, as they were denied a clear penalty on Pique’s handball and should have had a penalty when Alves fouled Malouda in the first half. However, they also showed why you have to keep playing until the referee blows his whistle. They had chances to put this out of reach and they were unable to. As such, they have only themselves to blame for giving Barcelona a chance to steal this one.
As for Barcelona, they’ve won the match, but it could be a Pyrrhic victory. They won’t have Alves and Abidal due to suspension, and they showed that all it takes is a little physicality and their entire offense gets thrown out of whack. Obviously, the buildup to the Final will feature the Ronaldo vs. Messi angle, but the real key will be whether Barcelona’s defense will be able to stop Manchester United’s offense. They’ll have a huge hole to climb from, and I don’t envy Pep Guardiola’s task. Still, getting there is half the battle, and they deserve credit for doing that much. They showed a lot of heart and tenacity, especially when it looked like they were dead and buried in this match.
Man of the Match:
Drogba can be so confounding and mercurial that it’s hard to see why Chelsea put up with him. Well, he showed why tonight. He gave Barcelona’s defense so many problems and he was a nightmare matchup for their center-halves. He looked like a threat to score every time he touched it. When he exited the match, you could immediately see the difference as Anelka lacked the same kind of power and presence inside the box. Lampard also played well, as did Cole who did a number on Messi that will probably be studied endlessly by Patrice Evra over the next few weeks. As for Barcelona, Iniesta was, once again, their most influential force as he continues to show why he could be the most underrated player on this squad. Messi, Eto’o, and Xavi, however, were underwhelming and will need to step up their games significantly.