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UEFA Champions League
April 18, 2012
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: F. Brych
• Attendance: 37000
D. Drogba 45'+
Thank you for joining me for Goal.com's LIVE coverage of what has been a thrilling Champions League semi-final first leg. It's advantage to Chelsea going into the second leg next week. Good night everyone!
Chelsea hold on! After going ahead at the end of the first half through Didier Drogba, the home side defended their lead brilliantly, surviving drama late on as Pedro crashed an effort against the post for Barcelona. Guardiola's side dominated possession tonight, but failed to turn that possession into goals, with Chelsea exploiting that profligacy to hit them on the counter attack and grab the only goal of the game. No away goal for Barcelona to take home with them, instead Chelsea go into the second leg firmly in the driving seat after putting in a brilliant well-organised performance at Stamford Bridge this evening.
FULL-TIME: Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona
90' + 3'
And there is the final whistle!!!
90' + 3'
BARCELONA HIT THE POST!!! Just as I say they are running out of ideas, Pedro curls an effort on to the post from 20 yards, with the ball rebounding to the feet of Sergio Busquets. He cannot compose himself though, and fires his shot high over the crossbar!!
90' + 2'
The clock is ticking here and Barcelona are struggling to carve out any chances. Can Chelsea hang on in these final few minutes?
90' + 1'
Three minutes of added time here at Stamford Bridge.
Mascherano and Puyol crowd out Kalou as the Chelsea attacker looks to latch on to a pass from Drogba inside the Barca penalty area.
Guardiola has used all three of his substitutes now, with Isaac Cuenca the latest player to be introduced. He's impressed this season for Barca, but he's only got a couple of minutes to make an impact here!
Yellow Card Didier Drogba
MASSIVE SAVE FROM CECH!!!! Messi curls the free-kick into the box where Puyol nods it on towards the bottom corner. Thiago should divert it past Cech but fails to connect with the ball, but the keeper still has a lot to do to keep it out, but he does, diving low to his right to tip Puyol's header round the post.
Barcelona have had the ball for what seems like an eternity without making any inroads into the Chelsea penalty area. That period of possession is brought to an abrupt end by a robust Didier Drogba challenge that results in a free-kick to the away side, and a yellow card for the offender.
Pep Guardiola is scratching his head on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge as his side play another pass straight through to Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.
Barcelona are running out of ideas a bit as this match heads into the final ten minutes. Will they find a breakthrough?? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, @charliefscott.
Drogba does brilliantly charging forward past a couple of Barcelona challenges before trying to play Ramires in but he slightly overhits his pass and it runs through to Victor Valdes.
Chelsea will be delighted if they can hold out for this win, not just for the lead, but also the fact that Barcelona won't have an away goal to take back with them for the second leg at Camp Nou.
It's Dani Alves' turn, but he is no more successful than Messi or Xavi. He opts for power, but cannot beat the wall, and the ball cannons off Meireles and out for a throw.
John Terry is penalised for another foul on Messi, and Barcelona have ANOTHER free-kick, this time 30 yards from Cech's goal.
Yellow Card Busquets
Ramires draws a fairly brutal foul from Busquets after opening up his legs and going sprinting down the left. It's a cynical foul from the Barca midfielder, but perhaps a sensible one, Ramires was in full flight there motoring into Barcelona's half.
By taking the lead this evening Chelsea have continued their run of scoring first in all of their Champions League matches this season. That's quite an achievement for the London side.
Salomon Kalou is limbering up on the sidelines, and there are suggestions that it may be Juan Mata that will be making way for the Ivorian international.
Yellow Card Pedro
Now Chelsea have a free-kick of their own!! Pedro, who has only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, is shown a yellow card for clipping the heels of Cole as he marauded forward down the left. Lampard chips the set piece towards Terry, but it slightly behind the defender and he struggles to get enough power on his header to trouble Valdes.
Xavi steps up to take this one, but his attempt is no better than Messi's a few minutes ago, and flies high and wide of Petr Cech's goal.
Yellow Card Ramires
It's taken 69 minutes for the first card of the game, and its been given to Ramires after he ploughed through the back of Messi on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area. Another free-kick in a dangerous area for Barca.
Drogba has gone down for about the thirtieth time this evening, and its definitely not a free-kick. Barcelona are pressured into putting the ball out despite wanting to play on. They are not happy about that, the away side.
Messi attempts to make amends for his poor free-kick by dribbling past a posse of Chelsea players before unleashing a shot at goal. But again, a Chelsea defender is there to throw themselves in front of the strike, this time it is John Terry who deflects the ball away.
Messi chooses to drive his effort goalwards rather than curling it and it only gets as far as the wall, as Chelsea throw bodies at the ball.
Barcelona free-kick. 20 yards from goal. Right of centre. Messi looks set to take it.
Ivanovic gives the ball away cheaply on the right for Chelsea before fouling Busquets in the middle of the pitch. Chelsea need to keep their wits about them in this final half an hour, as Barcelona appear to have turned things up a notch in recent minutes.
Chelsea have a free-kick inside their own penalty area after Alexis Sanchez goes bundling into Ashley Cole as he attempts to get on the end of a pass from Xavi. A chance to collect themselves for the home side.
Mata curls it in with his left and Cahill looks to have brought it down well on the edge of the box but the referee has seen an infringement and pulls play back for a handball from the centre-back.
Free-kick to Chelsea out wide on the right.
Dani Alves fires miles over from the edge of the box after Adriano had swung a cross back to him after some clever play from Iniesta.
MASSIVE CHANCE FOR BARCELONA!!!! Fabregas chips the ball over the Chelsea defence beautifully and Sanchez looks set to draw things level, but under heavy pressure from Ashley Cole, he skims his effort wide of the post. Yet another chance goes begging for the visitors.
CRUCIAL BLOCK FROM CAHILL!! Messi dances past some challeges before striking an effort towards the Chelsea goal from 20 yards. Cahill predicts the shot though, and throws himself in front of it, before it is then cleared to safety.
Lampard whips a vicious cross towards Gary Cahill at the back post but the centre-back cannot quite get on the end of it, and it evades everyone on its way out behind Valdes' goal.
Corner to Chelsea. Lampard goes over to take it. They need to be making the most of these set pieces, what with their clear height advantage.
GREAT SAVE FROM CECH!!! The left-footed Adriano cuts in from the right for Barcelona, ghosts past a couple of challenges on his way towards goal before curling a fine right-footed effort towards the far corner that Cech does brilliantly to claw away.
Barca are stroking the ball around nicely in the first few minutes of this half, but Chelsea are pressing them at every opportunity. They are not allowing their opposition to dwell on the ball.
Adriano wins a throw-in deep in Chelsea's half as Barcelona start this second half on the front foot. This second half will be a big test of Chelsea's character, up against some of the best players in the world, can they hold this lead?
We are back underway, Chelsea kick us off, but Barcelona soon steal the ball back, and move it around amongst their back four.
The teams are making their way back out on to the pitch at Stamford Bridge, with some classic English rain greeting them as they emerge from the tunnel.
And here are some eloquent words from our man at the game tonight, Wayne Veysey: "The half-time whistle is greeted not with a deep sense of relief but cheers. And for that, Chelsea fans can thank the unpredictability of sport, a rare Lionel Messi mistake, a brilliant run by Ramires and a snatched finish by Didier Drogba, who has been wonderful and wonderfully theatric in his lone targetman role. On an evening when the stats boys are having a field day (Barcelona possession, Raul Meireles terrible challenges and Drogba comedy falls), there is only one that matters. Chelsea are ahead. But do they have the energy and the resilience to stand firm for another 45 minutes?"
So guys, how do you see this second half going? Will Chelsea sit back and weather the inevitable Barcelona storm? Or will they go out in search of more goals? And how will Barcelona react to going behind despite dominating that first half? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, @charliefscott.
Chelsea's approach to this game has been perfect so far, their defence have been superbly organised while their midfield have hassled and harried Barcelona's players well. And upfront, Drogba, despite spending a large chunk of the first half on the floor, has made the difference in this match, with a clinical finish at the end of the half.
Important to note in those frantic final minutes of the half that it was Lionel Messi that gave the ball away in the lead up to Chelsea's opener, after the Argentine had gone down injured just minutes before.
HALF-TIME: Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona. The away side go in behind at the break despite dominating possession for much of the half. Didier Drogba's goal late on has given Chelsea the lead, after some superb play from Ramires on the left-hand side. Cesc Fabregas has been guilty of missing a couple of chances for Barcelona, while Lionel Messi has been fairly quite so far. Chelsea will be absolutely delighted with how things are going, while Barcelona must be disappointed not to have scored yet.
45' + 2'
45' + 2'
Goal Didier Drogba
GOALLLLLL FOR CHELSEA!!! Didier Drogba gives his side the lead after a brilliant surging run and cross from Ramires. The ball evades the Barcelona defence and Drogba is there at the back post to sweep home past Victor Valdes. Advantage to the home side.
45' + 2'
And that is the last action of the half. What a time to score!
45' + 1'
We are into added time here at the end of the first half and Messi is down...
Drogba throws himself to the deck rather theatrically after a perfectly legitimate tackle from Puyol and the referee Felix Brych is having none of it, choosing to wave play on. Correct decision there from the man in the middle.
Xavi takes it, but Drogba is there doing his bit defensively to head the ball out and away from danger. He's a handful at both ends old Didier.
Corner to Barcelona.
BRILLIANT DEFENSIVE PLAY FROM COLE!! It is Fabregas again with the chance for Barcelona, and again he fails to make the most of it. Messi slots the ball through to Fabregas, and his dinked effort over Cech is heading goalwards but Cole gets back well to smash the ball off the line to safety.
Chelsea are doing a good job of limiting Barcelona's chances at the moment, but they are going to have to create their own as well before this game is out. They will not want to go to Camp Nou without a goal.
A neat piece of skill from Ashley Cole sets Chelsea off, and a good move from left to right ends in the ball going out off Adriano in Barcelona's left-back position. Tidy stuff from the home side.
Composed play from Mikel brings a free-kick for Chelsea after the NIgerian dispossessed Dani Alves and then shielded the ball well before drawing a foul from the Barca defender.
Puyol has been bandaged up on the touchline and is ready to continue.
Drogba is flagged offside for not the first time tonight, it is sloppy movement from the striker, as by giving away a free-kick he is gifting possession back to Barcelona. And that is the last thing you should be doing.
Ashley Cole does brilliantly to clear the ball behind for a Barcelona corner with Dani Alves breathing down his neck. Drogba draws a foul from Puyol from the resulting set piece, giving Chelsea a chance to regroup.
Carles Puyol, the Barcelona captain, appears to be in a bit of pain out there, with what looks like a wrist injury. It doesn't stop him putting in a fine challenge on Ramires though!
Chelsea have only lost to Barcelona three times in the Champions League, and in each of those occasions they have had a man sent off. Their fans will be hoping their players keep their heads tonight!
Chelsea's midfield are having to work really hard to keep up with Xavi et al. at the moment but they are doing a good job so far. Barca have been limited to just a couple of decent chances in the opening half an hour.
MESSI WITH A HEADER!!!!? You read that correctly. The Argentine's header is saved well down low by Cech, after Alexis had crossed the ball in from the right. He's surprisingly good at heading for a small guy Messi, just think back to that Champions League final goal in 2009 against Manchester United, when he beat Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the air!
SAVE FROM CECH!! Cesc Fabregas cuts inside Gary Cahill on the left-hand side of the area before striking an effort at goal. A strong arm from Petr Cech diverts the ball from goal, and Chelsea can clear the ball away.
Iniesta goes down inside the area under a challenge from a Chelsea defender but despite the appeals of his side's fans, he himself doesn't look to the ref, and play continues with Chelsea in possession.
@sloberchea2000 reckons Chelsea are going win this one 2-1, but thinks Barca will score first.. We will see!
Messi very nearly plays Iniesta through after a neat exchange of passes with Fabregas, but Cech is out quickly and efficiently to sweep the ball away from the midfielder.
Barca work the ball nicely right on the edge of Chelsea's area, with the eventual shot coming from Xavi. Gary Cahill is alert to the danger though, and the metronomic Spaniard's attempt is diverted behind for a corner.
NOW HERE IS A GOOD STAT!! Chelsea have taken the lead in all of their Champions League matches this season, winning six out of 10. Are they going to take the lead in this one though? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, @charliefscott.
DANI ALVES TO THE RESCUE!!! Ramires looks to be clean through on goal for Chelsea but for a late tackle from the Brazilian defender, after the ball had ricocheted into the area following a long clearance from Cech. The Barca defence are struggling with those high balls at the moment.
Messi finds space for a shot 20 yards out but Jon Obi Mikel and Raul Meireles are there to dive in front of the Argentine's effort. The ball is not cleared to safety though, and Barcelona attack again, this time down the left. Iniesta drives a shot in that Cech parries to Fabregas 8 yards out and you would put money on him to score there... But he doesn't!! Instead he makes a poor connection with the ball and shanks his shot wide.
Juan Mata hasn't seen much of the ball so far for Chelsea, and Di Matteo's side will no doubt look to rectify that, with the Spaniard coming into this match in fine form after his performance in their 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win against Tottenham at the weekend.
And here's an update from our man at Stamford Bridge, Wayne Veysey, "There is plenty of tension here as the pre-match twirling of club-gifted blue-and-white flags gives way to Catalan tiki-taka and Chelsea hounding of their celebrated opponents. It would be almost overly generous to hail Chelsea's formation as a 4-3-3. It is more of a 4-5-1 with Didier Drogba some distance from his midfielders. Juan Mata has started on the right flank and Ramires on the left, no doubt to help thwart Dani Alves' bombing raids."
Some shirt-pulling at that corner has led to some 'Same old Barca, always cheating' chants from the Chelsea faithful... Speaking of which, Juan Mata scored a great goal at Wembley at the weekend didn't he?
CHANCE FOR CHELSEA!!! A corner from the right is nearly swept in by first John Terry and then Gary Cahill. Some last-ditch tackles flying in from Barcelona's defenders put Cahill off though, and his shot goes wide of the target.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ HITS THE BAR!!!!! In the blink of an eye Barcelona work the chance and the ball is lifted over the Chelsea defence superbly by Iniesta to the Chilean who then lobs a fine effort over Cech that is only kept out by the crossbar.
Barcelona have a free-kick on the left, but Xavi's delivery is overhit and Petr Cech catches the ball easily before clearing it upfield.
Drogba escapes the attention of Mascherano, and only has Carles Puyol between him and Valdes, but the Barcelona captain is aware of the danger, and calmly runs across Drogba to nick the ball and pass it back to his goalkeeper. Good defending from Puyol there.
Chelsea are struggling to touch the ball in these opening exchanges, Barcelona are absolutely dominating possession, as you might have expected them to.
Drogba has gone in late there on Sergio Busquets, he's definitely caught the Spaniard, and the referee Felix Brych has seen it, and goes across to have a quite word with the Ivorian striker.
Didier Drogba goes hurtling into the area, chasing on to a long Petr Cech clearance, but the ball is running too quickly, and Victor Valdes comes out well to take possession.
When they finally do give the ball away, they manage to get a free-kick. Branislav Ivanovic catches Cesc Fabregas as the former Arsenal man tries to make some room on the left.
And we are off, Barcelona take possession from the kick-off and are yet to give it away. That could well be a common feature of this match. The words 'Barcelona' and 'possession' go hand in hand.
We are seconds from getting under way here at Stamford Bridge. Let's hope it's a cracker!
But Chelsea haven't played Lionel Messi, or Alexis, or Fabregas... Between them, those three have 17 goals in this season's Champions League.
The Blues have a perfect record at Stamford Bridge this season in the Champions League. Roberto Di Matteo’s side have played five and won five, scoring 16 times and conceding just twice in the process.
What's that? You guys want some pre-match stats in the last few minutes before kick-off? Okay...
Subs: Pinto, Bartra, Thiago, Pique, Pedro, Keita, Cuenca
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Fabregas, Messi, Alexis
Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Malouda, Bosingwa, Torres, Kalou, Sturridge
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Meireles, Lampard; Ramires, Mata, Drogba
Now, without much further ado, here are the starting line-ups:
EXPECT FIREWORKS GUYS. I sure do.
Cast your mind back to that summery May evening at Stamford Bridge in 2009, when Andres Iniesta scored a superb stoppage time strike to take Barcelona through to the Champions League final at Chelsea's expense. The referee Tom Ovrebo was at the centre of a media storm that night as he rejected a succession of Chelsea penalty appeals, much to the well-publicised anger of both Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, both of whom received bans for their conduct towards the man in black. Andres Iniesta has already shrugged off that match's significance tonight, while Dani Alves got the mind-games party started earlier in the week when he went on record saying it was fear that led Chelsea to lose that game, not refereeing decisions.
It is fair to say there's been quite a bit of hype going into this one, and it's hardly surprising considering the recent pleasantries, or lack thereof, that have been exchanged between the two sides.
Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of what can only be described as a MASSIVE Champions League semi-final first leg between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. My name is Charlie Scott and I'll be available throughout the game tonight on Twitter @charliefscott, so feel free to tweet me your views!
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