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UEFA Champions League
April 24, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: C. Çakιr
• Attendance: 95845
Chelsea win Aggregate 3 - 2
Fernando Torres 90'+
Well, I promised you a treat, and I'm pretty sure you'll agree that's what you got. Unless you're a Barca fan. I've been Tom Woods, and you lot have been terrific. Join us for Goal.com tomorrow night as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich battle it out in the second semi final. Until then, take some time to soak in the extraordinary 90 minutes we have just witnessed. So long for now.
@ZimbadRumble Fair play Chelsea, didn't expect that. Di Matteo surely has to be offered a full time contract. Managing MK Dons a year ago. Amazing!
To everyone on Twitter, you were magnificent tonight. I had more contributions than I knew what to do with, so many apologies if I didn't use your particular message.
Well, that must go down as Chelsea's finest ever European performance. John Terry has a lot of explaining to do after getting himself sent off in the first half, and the Blues skipper will miss the final for his moment of madness. He will be joined in the stands by Ramires and Raul Meireles, who both picked up bookings tonight. But you know what? Chelsea will not care a jot about any of that. They've just made it to their second Champions League final at the expense of the world's best side. With that kind of result, all you should do is party.
That's it! Despite going a man and two goals down, Chelsea have produced an absolutely stupendous defensive performance, and from two hopeful counter-attacks, have grabbed the goals that send them to Munich. Barca have avoided a third straight defeat in a row, but it sure as hell won't feel like that.
90' + 3'
Barca have nothing in response here. What an amazing night this has been. You have to say Chelsea deserve it.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
GOOOAALLL CHELSEA!!!! Oh my life, they've done it. What a substitution that has proved to be, as Fernando Torres scores the goal that takes his side to the Champions League final. From a corner, Chelsea punt the ball clear, Barca have nobody back, and suddenly Torres is through on goal. He superbly beats Valdes before sliding the ball home. £50 million? That goal may be worth the transfer fee alone.
Barca win a corner, and Puyol heads Xavi's delivery over the bar. There are just three minutes to go here.
Yellow CardRaúl Meireles
Mascherano wins a superb tackle against Torres, and carries the ball forward before Raul Meireles trips him. The Portuguese prays not to be booked, but the yellow card is shown, and the former Porto man will miss the final should Chelsea make it.
Is this an awful time to remind you of Iniesta's late, late winner at Stamford Bridge in the last semi-final between these two?
...and Chelsea clear to the half-way line. They can taste the Champions League final now.
Ashley Cole concedes a corner...
Ramires heads a Dani Alves cross away superbly. With none of their first choice centre backs on the field, you have to say the rearguard action from Chelsea here has been phenomenal. I tip my hat to them, however this turns out.
Post! This may not be his night you know. Messi pulls the trigger, but sees his driven shot rattle Cech's near post. On second look, it appears that Cech got a hand to the ball there, and if that is the case then it's a magnificent save. How much closer can Messi come to scoring, without doing so?
GOAAA... no. Messi escapes down the right after substitute Torres let him escape, but he is flagged offside as he pulls the ball back for Sanchez, who fires home clinically. Big let off for Chelsea.
Chelsea make their final change. Didier Drogba, who has been outstanding tonight, makes his way from the field. In his place comes Fernando Torres. What a time this would be for the £50 million Spanish striker to find a goal.
That's a decent sight of goal for Busquets, but the midfielder fires over the bar with a half-volley. Fingernails being bitten everywhere you look inside Camp Nou.
There's a very familiar pattern emerging here. Barca play across the penalty area, Chelsea get everyone behind it, and a white shirt blocks the killer pass. Can the London side possibly withstand these final 15 minutes?
Cesc Fabregas is on his way off the field, to be replaced by Seyodu Keita. Last throw of the dice from Pep Guardiola. With Pedro on the bench, I can't help raising my eyebrows at that one.
Barca will just keep coming. They have to. But just for now, Chelsea are managing to deal with the tiki-taka they are being subjected to. A good block from Kalou robs Iniesta of a crossing opportunity.
Yellow CardFrank Lampard
And now Lampard enters the referee's notebook for a foul on his old mate Cesc Fabregas. Tempers, guys...
Lionel Messi, dare I say it, is looking a little frustrated, The no.10 has been cautioned for a deliberate pull of Frank Lampard. Unusually petulant from the Argentine there.
There are no Chelsea players further than 30 yards from their own goal. That's the level of defending they are having to do.
Barca have brought on one Spanish youngster for another, with Tello replacing Isaac Cuenca. Just over twenty minutes remaining.
What was Kalou doing there? The striker was played into space inside the Barca penalty area, but for some reason he appears to stop running. Would have been a stupendous chance to score a second there. Yet again, Chelsea have a missed chance to look back on.
Drogba is playing as a defender for the most part here, and has just made a superb interception from Dani Alves, before winning his side a throw. Aside from conceding that penalty, the Ivorian has been faultless.
I don't know how Barca are finding room in amongst this sea of Chelsea defenders, but they keep finding a way. Jose Bosingwa is the latest defender to make a last ditch interception. This is becoming breathless.
That's a free header for Ivanovic! The Serbian's header is over the top, and the chance is gone. Di Matteo's side may live to rue that miss.
Great centre forward play from Didier Drogba, who chases a lost cause forward, and cleverly knocks the ball against Mascherano for a corner. Rare opportunity for Chelsea here.
Chelsea clear the corner well. Might this be the fairytale second half that the Premier League team dreamed of?
Iniesta plays in Cuenca on the left, and Cech does well to block the youngster's low shot. Corner...
Yellow CardPetr Cech
That change might add an extra offensive outlet for Roberto Di Matteo's side, but if I'm honest, I can't see too many attacks on the horizon. It's all Barca here and looks set to stay that way.
Here's another Chelsea change. Juan Mata has had a quiet night, as he did in the first leg, and trudges off to be replaced by the Ivorian Salomon Kalou.
Petr Cech is having one of his strongest games in a long while. A through-ball from Xavi looks to be heading to the feet of Sanchez, but the Czech is out like a flash to gather the ball. Very commanding from the Chelsea stopper.
From Martin del Palacio Langer: "Now the stadium chants "Messi, Messi", but in reality nobody can believe their eyes. Barca seem to be choking at the moment and painful memories of 2010 come to mind..."
Another chance for Barca, who are pouring forward relentlessly. Dani Alves lofts in a cross towards Alexis Sanchez, but the Chielean can't direct his effort on target. There's a red and blue sea breaking on this Chelsea backline with incredible persistence here.
More argey-bargey betwen the two teams, as Lampard seems to push Fabregas to the floor. The former Arsenal man retaliates by grabbing the legs of the Chelsea man, and all manner of bodies come together in a melee. We may see more than one sending off here tonight, I feel.
Yellow CardAndrés Iniesta Luján
In all honesty, it was a super penalty from Messi, hit hard and high, but just lacked that crucial touch of accuracy. Not been a good night for the best player in the world so far.
MISSES! Well I'll be a son of a gun. The Argentine's kick rattles the crossbar. Is Chelsea's goal leading a charmed life here?
Yellow CardBranislav Ivanovic
PENALTY! Barca have been inside the Chelsea area almost non-stop since the start of the half, and Didier Drogba, back defending for his side, trips Cesc Fabregas, who goes to ground heavily. Messi to take...
I think it's fair to say Barca will have the majority of the ball this half. They have just gone very close to a third goal, as Fabregas lays the ball off to Iniesta, who sees his shot deflected behind by Ivanovic.
Barca get us back underway. A reminder that, as it stands, the Champions League holders are on their way out. Can ten-man Chelsea hold on to this lead?
The players are on their way back out for the second half. What a huge 45 minutes in we have in store...
@Rishad_21 This game has officially exploded. Cue "Are you not entertained, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Is this not why you're here?"
@iamneilalvin There was no KNEE for John Terry to do that.
Martin del Palacio writes from Camp Nou: "Scattered applause as the first half comes to an end. People are just stunned by Chelsea's goal when the English team seemed in the verge of receiving a knockout blow. That was some awful defending by a team that were starting to assert their dominance on the game."
That goal brings the first half to a close. An incredible last fifteen minutes there, as Barca looked set to put this tie well and truly out of Chelsea's sight. John Terry's red card may still prove a fatal blow to the visitor's defence, but that exquisite Ramires goal currently has the London side in the Champions League final. Don't go anywhere, will you...
45' + 1'
GOOAAL CHELSEA! What a stunner that is. Lampard plays a hopeful ball forward to Ramires, who is streaking away down the right, and the Brazilian clips an incredible first-time chip over Victor Valdes. Huge moment, and Chelsea are heading through on away goals. Tie very much back on.
45' + 1'
GoalAndrés Iniesta Luján
GOOOALL BARCA! It may be about to get noisier, Martin. Messi is the architect, as he runs at the depleted Chelsea defence before playing in, Andreas Iniesta, who slides a clinical side-foot finish beyond Cech. Chelsea's Champions League hopes are fading fast...
From Martin del Palacio Langer inside Camp Nou: The stadium just went crazy in the last two minutes as Barça get off the mark and Terry is sent off. It is as noisy as has been anytime in the match.
If Chelsea can keep the score to one from this point, it will be a minor miracle. Having seen replays of that red card, it looks as though Terry sticks a knee into the back of Sanchez. There was a clear element of malice there, and for the life of me, in a Champions League semi-final, I can't begin to guess what what going through his mind. It's a totally unnecessary challenge, completely out of the blue, and it may very well cost his side the match. What a way to lead by example, John.
...hits the wall. The Argentine superstar doesn't quite have his shooting boots on yet.
Messi is over the free-kick...
Red CardJohn Terry
RED CARD! It's all kicking off. Chelsea captain John terry appears to bump Alexis Sanchez in the back, and is shown a straight red card. I find it hard to see what he was doing there, it was a totally needless challenge. A moment of insanity perhaps. Chelsea have it all to do now.
GOOALL BARCA! They couldn't hold on forever. From a Barca corner, Dani Alves wins Drogba's clearing header, and releases Cuenca inside the area. The Spaniard's clever ball across goal is tapped home by Sergio Busquets. 90,000 Catalans erupt.
Whistles from the crowd as Didier Drogba does down, apparently injured as Barca begin another attack. They don't believe him. I can't think why...
Yellow CardJohn Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel becomes the first booking of the night, after a needless foul on Alexis Sanchez. The Nigerian will need to keep his discipline if his side are to stand up to this monumental challenge tonight.
Barca win a corner, but it comes to nothing, with Chelsea pressuring their opponents incredibly well. It's decidedly backs-to-the-wall from Di Matteo's side, but it's working so far.
@ZimbadRumble - Chelsea have 10 men behind the ball every time Barca attack, but the ball keeps ending up with Cech. Not sustainable for 90mins..
From Martin del Palacio Langer, our man in Camp Nou: Pique is out, not surprisingly, and Alves in. Mascherano is now the centre of the three-man back line with Alves down the right and Puyol down the left. Meanwhile on the Chelsea sidelines Essien, Malouda and Kalou are warming up...
Barca have been forced in a change of their own here. Gerard Pique isn't fit to continue, and in his place comes the Brazilian Dani Alves. Certainly adds an attacking edge to that Barca backline.
It's very much route-one from Chelsea here, but it very nearly paid off there. Another long ball from Cech finds Drogba, who shrugs off a challenge and bears down on goal from the angle. His shot hits the side netting, but it's a moment that will really give Barca's three-man defence something to think about.
@amSingulis If chelsea are to go through to the finals,they need to forget their 1st leg goal,and play for victory.
A huge OOOHHH from the crowd as Javier Macherano lines one up from 25 yards, and the ball fizzes less than a foot over the bar. He doesn't score too many, but it was well worth a go from that kind of range.
Super block by Cech! In typical Barca fashion, a series of quick passes ends with a delightful Fabregas flick that releases Messi. However, his slide-rule finish is well blocked by the legs of Chelsea's keeper. It looks a bigger and bigger chance each time you look at it.
First chance for Branislav Ivanovic to launch a long throw into the box. However, the ball is quickly cleared and within seconds, Sanchez has won a free-kick after a foul by Meireles. Lightning quick break from the Catalans there.
However, Gerard Pique is still down and receiving treatment...
What a kick that is from Cech. After collecting a high ball, the Chelsea keeper launches an enormous clearance that Drogba gives chase to. Victor Valdes gathers, but takes a clattering from Pique and Drogba for his trouble. Dazed and somewhat confused, the Barca keeper is only just getting to his feet.
The ball crosses the Barca halfway line for all of two seconds, as Pique heads away a hopeful ball that Bosingwa was chasing. Moments later, Mata crosses straight into the hands of Victor Valdes. Disappointing final ball from the Spanish international.
That change is going to be made now. Poor Gary Cahill. After a strong start, the England man if off, and Bosingwa on. We'll see how that affects Chelsea's organisation in the back four.
@nishant_pant Park the bus...thats what positive Chelsea means...
Ashley Cole made a crucial block in the first leg, and has just done so again, volleying a Messi cross away from under his own crossbar. Chelsea haven't been out of their half for a good while now.
An update on the Cahill injury. Jose Bosingwa is stripped and ready to come on, but has not sat back down. He may be OK after all...
Petr Cech has had a commanding start to the game, and has just claimed another good catch from off the head of a Barca forward. The Czech stopper can still be among the best in the world on his day, and will need to prove that here you feel.
Cahill might not be able to continue here you know...
Excellent link up play again from Messi, who took the ball from very deep before feeding Xavi, who threads a first-time ball into Sanchez. Gary Cahill makes an excellent block to deny the Chilean. The former Bolton man has hurt himself in the process.
@iamneilalvin - I'm still surprised Alves is on the bench. Can he not play in the midfield and Fabregas be in the front three?
Good defending by Ramires, who stood up well to Isaac Cuenca and forced the youngster into a mistake. Big game needed from the Brazilian at both ends tonight.
The little man is off to a good start. Lionel Messi exchanges sublime passes with Sanchez, but oddly, his finish is a little wayward when it comes. Chelsea will want to make sure he doesn't find that amount of room again though.
A roar from the crowd as Xavi gets on the ball for the first time. His lofted ball forward is just too heavy for Alexis Sanchez, and Petr Cech can gather.
Straight away, Chelsea fulfill their attacking promise. Ashley Cole busts forward down the left, and curls in a cross that is just too close to Victor Valdes. Positive signs from the visitors.
The whistle goes, and we’re off. Hold on to your hats, folks.
Barcelona are in their home colours of red and blue, with Chelsea playing in their changed white strip. The Londoners will get us underway, kicking from right to left.
The teams are out, led by tonight’s referee, Turkey’s Cuneyt Cakir. The man with the whistle won’t need reminding of the refereeing controversies that have surrounded past meetings between these sides. Will be very interesting to see the stance he takes under what will be incredibly intense scrutiny. Best of luck Cuneyt.
@m7mdBin5alid I think that will be a tight match but I think that Chelsea will eliminate Barcelona...
As previously mentioned, these two have dished up some pretty tasty encounters in the past few years. Which of them was your favourite? For me, it has to be Chelsea’s 4-2 home win from 2005. That Ronaldinho shimmy, that save from Petr Cech, and that late header from John Terry. Can you top that? Keep those thoughts coming in to @woodstome on Twitter. I’ll read each and every one.
A quick look at the head-to-head record between these sides shows five Barcelona wins, five Chelsea wins, and four draws. Were that record to move to an even 5-5-5, of course, Barcelona would be out. Chelsea will feel they have such a result in them, having not lost to Barca in their last six meetings, but the home side boast an absolutely terrifying record in European competition. Their last four Champions League games at Camp Nou have been won by an aggregate score of 16-2, and they have only been held to a draw twice in their last sixteen matches. Chelsea have been on good form under Di Matteo, losing just once in fourteen matches, but tonight is a challenge above any they have faced during that time. Win it, and it would rank among the greatest results in the club’s history.
After making eight changes to his team at the weekend, Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo reverts back to the team that came out on top at Stamford Bridge last week. The interim boss has promised a positive attitude to this game, and will be playing to score that all-important away goal. Crucial to that may be Didier Drogba, who has shrugged off a knock to start ahead of Fernando Torres. These following will be eleven heroes if they come out on top tonight. CHELSEA LINEUP: (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Meireles, Lampard; Ramires, Drogba, Mata. Bench: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Essien, Malouda, Kalou, Sturridge, Torres.
Those are the stakes, then. But what about the teams? For Barcelona, Pep Guardiola make four changes from the team that lost the Clasico at the weekend. Most notably, there is no place for Dani Alves in tonight’s starting lineup, Gerard Pique returns to a back three, and 20 year-old Isaac Cuenca starts in attack. BARCA LINEUP: (3-4-3): Valdes; Pique, Puyol, Mascherano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas; Sanchez, Messi, Cuenca Bench: Pinto, Dani Alves, Adriano, Keita, Thiago, Pedro, Tello
Chelsea, of course, want this every bit as much. Ever since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovic bought the club back in 2003, this competition has been the boss’ number one objective. They have come close on more than one occasion, and were a kick away from winning the trophy in 2008, but so far Europe’s most coveted trophy has evaded their grasp. The longing grows stronger every year, but this time round, winning the trophy may be the only chance for the London side to even qualify for the competition next year. Currently sitting four points adrift of the Champions League places in the Premier League, Chelsea are looking at the prospect of Europa League football next season, unless they can qualify for this competition as reigning champions.
That defeat to Real left Barca seven points behind their title rivals, meaning their only chance to underline their credentials as “world’s best” is by retaining the Champions League, a feat no other side has yet managed. Some might say that Barca don’t need this as much as other teams, that it’s good for somebody else to have a turn. But it isn’t trophies that this lot are chasing any more. It’s greatness, immortality, a chapter in history all of their own. Few teams are ever in a position to achieve this, but you get the feeling that, for this Barcelona side, it is within touching distance.
Let’s set the scene a bit further. The London side hold a 1-0 advantage from the first-leg, a rain-soaked night at Stamford Bridge in which Chelsea scored with their only shot on goal. Barcelona twice hit the woodwork, missed chance after chance, and were ultimately made to pay for their wastefulness. Since that night, the Catalans have also blown their chances of retaining their league crown, after going down 2-1 here to their eternal rivals Real Madrid. It’s the first time they have lost back-to-back competitive games in three years. For one of the best sides in history, that is going to hurt a lot, and they have a big, big point to prove this evening.
I’m Tom Woods, and I want to hear from you as much as possible during tonight’s proceedings. Get in touch with your predictions, observations and accusations via @woodstome on Twitter.
Camp Nou is packed with close to 99,000 spectators for Barcelona-Chelsea, the first of this week’s Champions League semi-final second-leg ties. This fixture has a good deal of recent history, with the two sides having met on five previous occasions in this competition, all in the past twelve years. They know each other very well by now, and what they produce is frequently nail-biting, often controversial, and always, always a ruddy thrill. You are in for a treat, you lot.
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