By Wayne Veysey | UK Correspondent
On a night of far-fetched storylines, a disbelieving global audience was treated to a script that would have had a Hollywood film producer tearing it up in disbelief had he been offered it beforehand.
David slays Goliath with one hand behind his back after trying to knee him from behind? ‘Come off it. Try again’.
But, yes, Chelsea’s players really will return to London in the early hours still pinching themselves at the events of the greatest European night in the club’s history.
Bar one man, who will no doubt be lost in self-contemplation, reflecting on how he nearly ruined it for his team-mates following an incident that will haunt him for the rest of his career. John Terry now has his very own David Beckham moment. Not the heroic last-minute winner one. But the one that inspired burning effigies hanging on every east London street corner.
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY|
John Terry puts his side is an even worse situation as he knees Sanchez in the back and is shown a straight red card by the referee to leave Chelsea with 10 men for the remainder of the game.
| PLAYER RATING
|3.5||Sent off after 36 minutes for recklessly kneeing Alexis in the back off the ball for no apparent reason, a moment of madness which could have cost his team dearly and was a hammer-blow to his own reputation.|
With one reckless flick of his knee, Terry not only delivered a hammer blow to his carefully cultivated leader’s image but nearly destroyed the already slim chance Chelsea had of reaching the Champions League final.
That his team-mates strived, survived and thrived so manfully for 53 minutes without him will prick Terry’s ego. In a post-match interview in which he delivered the most unconvincing defence since, well, his last unconvincing defence, he looked like someone who had gate-crashed a party to which he was neither invited nor welcome.
Chelsea’s incredible resilience, Ramires’ jaw-droppingly brilliant scoop, Fernando Torres’ redemption, Lionel Messi’s penalty miss. The staggering storylines were all vying for attention with Terry’s meltdown.
For its sheer pointlessness, recklessness and dumbness, it cannot be ignored. Terry can perhaps be thankful that his cynical boot up Alexis Sanchez’s lower back took place in a Chelsea shirt rather than England one. Better a club legend who had a villainous mini-episode than a national pariah.
Not that Terry believes there is any reason for his popularity among the Chelsea faithful to diminish by one iota.
After the assistant stationed behind the goal spotted what referee Cuneyt Cakir did not in the 37th minute and persuaded his colleague that only a red card would suffice for such a violent act, Terry vehemently protested his innocence in a manner not perhaps unfamiliar to regular observers of the deposed England captain’s behaviour.
His face snarled, he waved his arms around, he traded insults with Barcelona players. Sensibly, Petr Cech was having none of it. He placed a giant glove on each of his captain’s shoulders, turned his body towards the dressing room and escorted him halfway off the pitch.
Perhaps Cech had seen what many of the 90,000 souls at Camp Nou appeared to have missed. That is, a staggering piece of stupidity from Terry who, for no apparent reason, laid into Sanchez just outside the penalty box with play going on elsewhere.
It was far more cynical that Beckham’s 1998 World Cup meltdown against Argentina. At least the man who would go on to adorn a million billboards had been provoked by Diego Simone before petulantly kicking out at him.
There was no evidence that Sanchez was doing anything other than minding his own business before Terry lost his head and found some reason to bash him from behind.
Moreover, it came at a time that seemed to cause maximum damage to his team. Sergio Busquets had just levelled the tie on aggregate and Chelsea had already been forced into a central defensive re-adjustment after Gary Cahill was withdrawn in the 12th minute with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea’s PR machine soon swung into action, granting Sky Sports access to Terry down by the dugout, where the shameless skipper claimed his kick on Sanchez was completely accidental. The replays proved otherwise. It was a pathetic defence.
Afterwards, he wore a face of contrition and changed his story slightly, while sticking to the plea of innocence.
“Sanchez was darting in behind me at the time. I've seen the replay and it does look bad but I'm not the kind of player to intentionally hurt anyone,” he explained.
"I've raised my knee which maybe I shouldn't have done in hindsight. Hopefully the people out there who know me as a player and a person know I'm not that kind of player.
“I don't have any complaints about the red card. At the time I was bewildered because I was trying to protect myself a little bit but looking at it on the replay it does look like a red card.”
Terry said he had apologised to his team-mates and wanted to do the same to the supporters. “I feel like I’ve let them down.”
That Chelsea went on to complete mission impossible should not allow Terry any wriggle room from his lamentable act.
Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanovic and the outstanding Ramires put their bodies on the line to pick up second bookings that ruled them out of the final through suspension.
Terry will no doubt be in Munich shouting orders from the touchline but he should surely keep a sensible distance if Chelsea triumph against Real Madrid or Bayern and achieve their holy grail. For that, he can only blame himself.
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