Champions League semi-final. (Second Leg)
30 April 2008
Stamford Bridge, London.
(1-1 after first leg)
Chelsea Beat Liverpool 3-2 after extra time in a five goal thriller.
Image details: Chelsea v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final served by picapp.com
Liverpool and Chelsea met in the Champions League Semi Final, second leg last night for the third time in four years. The prize? A place in the final against Manchester United. It was all set up for an exciting match, the first leg at Anfield had left the advantage with Chelsea on but only just at 1-1, the West London side having that vital away goal in their favour.
Both sides made minimal changes to their teams from the first leg. Frank Lampard returned from sympathetic leave (after the recent sad loss of his mother). John Arne Riise started at left-back for Liverpool, hoping to make amends for his own goal in the first leg. Yossi Benayoun started in place of Ryan Babel.
Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole (Anelka 91), Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (Shevchenko 119), Kalou (Malouda 70), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Obi, Alex, Belletti.
Goals: Drogba 33, Lampard 98 pen, Drogba 105.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (Hyypia 22), Riise, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun (Pennant 78), Gerrard, Torres (Babel 99).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Finnan, Crouch, Lucas.
Goals: Torres 64, Babel 117
Booked: Alonso, Arbeloa.
Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
The first half was a tense affair, as expected when two football giants face each other with such high stakes. Early on Chelsea played for possession, and while Liverpool pushed forward they defended well and deep, knowing that conceding an away goal at this stage would be costly.
As Chelsea played themselves into the game they began to catch Liverpool on the counter attack, and scored first after 33 minutes. Frank Lampard put through an excellent through pass, which Arbeloa failed to intercept. Salomon Kalou found himself in space. If he was offside, the referee's assistant didn't see it and he fired in a fierce shot, parried by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina but Didier Drogba rifled home the rebound.
Liverpool tried to get back into the game, but the Chelsea defence was solid, and they always carried the threat of the counter attack and Liverpool were nervy. They knew they had to score, but a goal did not materialise before half time. At half time is was 1-0 Chelsea and they had one foot in the final.
Liverpool came out in the second half even more determined, and started to get at Chelsea. The second half was not short on chances for both sides. On 64 minutes Yossi Benayoun got the better of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou and threaded a neat ball through for the incoming Fernando Torress, who coolly controlled and slotted the ball into the net for the equaliser.
Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Chelsea were fired back into action, thinking they had the game won, and now facing the prospect of extra time, they pushed forward with more and more flair. Liverpool had to defend resoundly.
15 minutes from time, Michael Essien went on a brilliant solo run down the right, skinned several defenders into the penalty area but hit the side netting.
Jermaine Pennant came on as substute for Benayoun. Could he provide the pace down the right and the dangerous crosses that Liverpool needed to unlock the Chelsea defence?
It wasn't going to be that simple. Neither side could break the deadlock, and the FULL-TIME whistle came with the scores balanced at Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool (agg 2-2) Extra time it was, as we all knew it would be. This was that kind of semi – final.
In the first half of extra time Chelsea pushed on, there was incredible drama when Michael Essien thinks he has scored the winning goal, he celebrates away and the referees assistant had flagged three Chelsea players as offside. It won't count!
Just a minute later, Chelsea are awarded a penalty when Michael Ballack is tripped by Sami Hyypia , there can be no disputes here, it was clearly a foul! Step forward Frank Lampard.
98 minutes, Frank Lampard shows amazing composure to slot in the spot-kick. It is an emotional moment as he runs to the corner flag where he kneels and kisses his black armband. He is visibly tearful, the goal is a fitting tribute to his recently departed mother, as he runs back to the centre circle, he points to his father Frank Senior in the crowd. Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (agg 3-2)
Ryan Babel replaces Fernando Torres, and questions are raised about Benitez tactics. Was Torres injured? At this stage it was uncertain, we could only assume so. Babel is in action almost immediately as his electric pace takes him into the penalty box, and falls appealing for a penalty – but it was a legitimate tackle.
105 minutes had passed, just 10 more minutes from the final, Nicolas Anelka made it to the byeline, and cut it back for Didier Drogba to find the net at the near post. At this stage, you have to believe it is game over for Liverpool, but Liverpool have a reputation for doing just that.
Chelsea 3-1 Liverpool (agg 4-2)
3 minutes from time, Ryan Babel scored a spectacular long range drive. The Liverpool fans were asking themselves, "Is it still possible?" On second looks maybe Cech could have saved it. Babel was 30 yards out and the Chelsea goalkeeper allowed it to slip through his fingers and into the top corner. This meant that if Liverpool scored again they would almost certainly be in the final because of the away goals rule.
It wasn't to be though, Chelsea held on for the victory of an absolutely thrilling encounter
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (agg 4-3)
Final whistle Chelsea win 3-2 (4-3 on aggregate).
Chelsea will play Manchester United in the Champions League final in Moscow on May 21st 2008.s