- Champions League
- 18 April 2012, 6:45pm
- Stamford Bridge
FULL TIME:A fabulous game, a heroic performance by Chelsea and we have ourselves a truly thrilling second leg in prospect at the Nou Camp. Barca hit the bar, the post and missed several glorious chances, but the Blues - and Gary Cahill inparticular - defended as if their lives depended on it. Will they be quite so profligate next week? It's going to be fun finding out.
90+2 mins: Barcelona hit the post! Then miss ANOTHER sitter! Incredible drama in injury time. Terry's snensational tackle looks to have foiled the attack but the ball rolls to Pedro just outside the box. He curls a low fizzer agains the base of the far post, it rebounds out to Busquets with the goal gaping but, off balance, he fires it over the bar!
90 mins: We will have three minutes of injury time as Drogba battles back to help his defenders and concedes a corner. It's cleared.
88 mins: Another Chelsea change as Jose Bosingwa comes on for the excellent Ramires. Isaac Cuenca replaces Xavi for Barca.
87 mins: Brilliant save by Cech! Puyol flicks on a whipped free kick into the box. It's heading for the far corner and Thiago's run across the ball's flight complicates things further for the keeper, but he plunges to his right to claw it out.
86 mins: Drogba is finally booked - not for a dive but a mistimed tackle on Messi.
83 mins: Chelsea have everyone back now, not that they've exactly been flooding forward in numbers before now! Ooh, as I type a long ball is allowed to bounce in the Barca area, Kalou nudges Mascherano off the ball and hooks his shot over the bar. The whistle had gone for a foul anyway.
80 mins: The more admirable side of Drogba now as he skips away from a challenge with quick feet to launch a Chelsea counter. Ramires is running on ahead of him but his outside-of-the-boot pass only just fails to reach its target as Adriano tracks back.
79 mins: Thiago comes on in place of Fabregas for Barcelona. The ex-Arsenal man missed one sitter and one other fabulous chance. He's had better nights.
78 mins: Messi wriggles away from Remeires but not Terry, who brings him down 25 yards out. No card. Alves hits the wall with the resulting free kick.
76 mins: Barcelona's threat has ebbed away slightly in the last few minutes. Busquets is booked for a flying tackle that wipes out Ramires.
73 mins: Di Matteo makes a change as Salomon Kalou comes on for Mata. He's been peripheral tonight but when you're conceding 70% possession and you're a creative player that's entirely forgivable.
71 mins: Pedro is booked just minutes after coming on for a clip on Cole.
69 mins: Ramires is the first player booked tonight after a foul on Messi. "I agree with dan you are a bit one sided. Chelsea are doing welll .This is the best team on the planet after all..." says Jeff on the Isle of Wight. Are you denying that Barca are dominating? And could you find me the bit where I've said Chelsea are playing badly?
68 mins: Guess what? Drogba's on the floor again after stretching into a tackle with Busquets. Barca put the ball out of play rather sportingly but are clearly fed up with him now and wail at the referee about his antics.
67 mins: Pep makes a change, throwing on Pedro Rodriguez for Sanchez. Messi's free kick hits the wall, then he shoots after a mazy run and Terry blocks.
65 mins: Say what you like about Drogba (I've just had a peek at Twitter and people are certainly doing that!) but his diving con artistry is giving his team-mates the odd breather. Here he goes down after Mascherano dares to touch him and Chelsea can regroup briefly amidst Barca's increasing pressure.
62 mins: Sanchez releases Xavi with a clever backheel down the right but Ramires' presence is enough to break up the danger.
59 mins: Another truly hideous dive by Drogba after minimal contact from Iniesta. It gets Chelsea a free kick on the right, Mata chips it into the mixer but Cahill is penalised for handball after Lampard's knockdown.
57 mins: Another SHOCKING miss by Barca! That's three sitters now plus hitting the bar! Fabregas lifts a beuatiful ball over the top for the Chilean. He controls it well enough, has only Cech to beat from five yards but pokes it wide! There was some pressure from Cole but that really is no excuse.
56 mins: And AGAIN it's Cahill who foils Barca! Sanchez had wriggled past him and looked to be in on goal but the former Bolton man gets a crucial leg in to clear the danger.
55 mins: Again Messi gets an inch of room and embarks on one of those impish run which usually ends with the net bulging. Cahill is the man in the way once again though. He's having a stormer at the back there.
53 mins: Some respite for Chelsea as they get a corner off Alves. Lampard whips it to the back post but it curls away from Cahill as he dives in to try and get a foot to the ball.
51 mins: Fine save by Cech! Adriano slaloms past Lampard and into space outside the area before curling one towards the far corner which the goalkeeper palms away to safety.
49 mins: Iniesta tries to steal half a yward on Ivanovic for a shot but his effort from a tight angle on the left deflects away for a corner, which Lampard clears. Already in this second half the pattern has resumed - Barca possession, Chelsea resistance.
47 mins: Messi exchanges passes with Xavi and tries to curl one from distance but it's blocked by Cahill.
46 mins: We're under way again. No changes for either side. ""Your not spanish by any chance are you mate ..Talk about Biased reporting !!!" says Dan in Hants. Erm, what?
HALF TIME: Well that's put the cat amongst the pigeons has it not? Barcelona hit the bar, missed two further fabulous chances and predictably dominated possession, but it's Chelsea who grab a goal in stoppage time to give this tie a fascinating twist. Stick around for the second half, folks - it'll be interesting.
45+3 mins: CHELSEA TAKE THE LEAD!! Oh. My. Word. In time added on mostly due to his diving, Drogba has plundered a shock goal. Messi loses out to Lampard in midfield and he pings a delightful cross-field ball to Ramires with acres to run into. It seemed he has to shoot but instead fizzes it low across the area where Drogba buries it left-footed from six yards. Well, well, well!
45 mins: Another truly pathetic swan dive by Drogba. There may have been contact with his knee from Puyol, but his arched-back plunge to the turf was worthy of Tom Daley. "Parents up and down the country Drogba is showing us tonight what is wrong with football right now Cheats prospering he is a disgrace sit down a watch a game of Rugby pal" says Darryl.
43 mins: Another FABULOUS chance for Fabregas! Messi dribbles directly at the Chelsea rearguard and despite the presence of five defenders, no-one gets close enough to him. Having committed so many men towards him, the Argentinian can slip it through to Fabregas left of goal. He has only Cech to beat but rather scuffs a little dink over the keeper. It's trundling towards the far corner until Cole retreats to hack it off the line. Why didn't he just welly it?
42 mins: If Chelsea can see out this first half they won't be too unhappy. After they head a corner away, Cech is happy to see Alves' blast fly over.
40 mins: Stoke tactics are bearing some fruit for Chelsea. Another long hurl into the box is cleared to Meireles but his piledriver rebounds off Busquets and away to safety. It was half a chance.
38 mins: Drogba has spent most of the last ten minutes on the deck. Howls of agony, clutches of the shin and calf and much moaning at the referee. From anyone else you'd say it was deliberate time wasting, but in this case it's simply business as usual.
35 mins: Puyol seems to have something wrong with his wrist after a coming together with Drogba. He's not the first to receive the odd whack in tussles with the Ivorian. He has it strapped up and will plough on.
33 mins: Messi feeds Iniesta again as the Spaniard makes another menacing dart goalwards, but he gets it caught under his feet and Cahill comes across to cover for Ivanovic. Barca's threat is bubbling quietly.
30 mins: Chelsea fans 'ole' every pass as their side keep the ball for 10-12 consecutive touches. It all goes to pot as Terry's good ball to Drogba sees the latter caught fractionally offside.
28 mins: A rather un-Barca like move sees Iniesta plop a ball over the top to Sanchez on the right, he swings in a cross and Messi meets it with his head. It's from quite far out though and Cech's save down to his left is pretty routine.
27 mins: Fabregas wrong-foots Cahill on the left side of the area and smacks a rising drive goalwards but Cech parries it to safety. That was a power-packed strike, unlike his effort 10 minutes ago.
25 mins: The game has settled into a predictable pattern. Overwhelming Barcelona possession, hurried Chelsea counter-attacks when ever they get it, and repeat.
22 mins: Messi's little ball slipped through for the onrushing Iniesta looks pretty dangerous but Mikel tracks him diligently.
22 mins: Messi's little ball slipped through for the onrushing Iniesta looks pretty dangerous but Mikel tracks him diligently.
21 mins: Barca have four or five players camped on the edge of the Blues box, trying to pick tiny gaps, but the hosts hold them at bay for now. They win a corner, but Chelsea head it clear.
19 mins: Mascherano looks vulnerable here. Once again he can't clear properly and only an unkind bounce prevents Drogba from profiting inside the box. When the throw comes back into the mixer, it's half cleared to Mata but his hit from distance flies over.
17 mins: Oh my word, WHAT a chance for Fabregas! Messi's bewitching run down the inside left channel and into the area ends with a little flick back to Iniesta. He blasts a low shot across the six yard box from a tight angle which Cech can only parry to Fabregas. With most of the goal to aim at from a central position, he hopeless miskicks with his left foot!
15 mins: Fabregas runs from deep but Xavi's ball is too 'straight' to reach him and Cech collects comfortably. "Put some money on terry first scorer Chelsea 2-1 got 200/1 let's see the first corner," says FunkNige in Darlo.
13 mins:Meireles slides in for a 50-50 with Busquets and, to me at least, he seems to win it cleanly. Busquets hits the floor and does the old 'rolling around holding shinpad' routine. No card once again.
12 mins: Sanchez tries to make another run forward but is blocked crudely off the ball by Terry. He seems to be winded and gets up gingerly. Terry walks away and offers no sympathy. Replays make it look deliberate. The former England captain might count himself lucky the officials didn't get a decent view of that.
10 mins: Chance for Chelsea! It stems from some Stoke City tactics as a long throw is hurled into a packed six yard box. Terry is grappling with Alves and tries to shovel it over the line, then Cahill flies in feet-first but the ball deflects wide of the post.
9 mins: Sanchez hits the bar! Chelsea switch off for a nanosecond and suddenly Barca have strung four quick passes together and broken the hosts' offside trap. Iniesta chips a ball over the back line for Sanchez, who is one-on-one with Cech. He dinks it over Cech and it loops down against the bar. The Blues then hack it clear.
7 mins: Another little glimpse of a chance for Drogba. He turns away from Mascherano, who had committed himself rather horribly. He runs at the last man Puyol, tries to push it past him but the experienced frizzy haired Spaniard is too wise for that and mops up well.
5 mins: Busquets collapses to the deck after Drogba loses possession and mistimes a lunge for the ball, stepping on the Barca man's foot. No card issued. Ivanovic was guilty of a clumsy early foul too. Good to see the ref applying some early leniency.
3 mins: Almost a chance for Drogba! Cech's clearance is a monster of a kick and Puyol lets it sail over his head. The Ivorian ox steals in behind him and would have been clean through had his first touch not been slightly too heavy. Valdes is able to come out and smother the ball.
2 mins:Barcelona keep the ball for precisely 1min and 17 seconds before Iniesta's loose pass (!!) surrenders possession down the left.
0 mins: This is it, then. It's Barca, in their all dark blue strip, who kick us off amidst a raucous, flag-waving west London atmosphere.
1940: I don't think there's a human being on the globe that's not wetting their undergarments with excitement about this one. Lionel Messi is making Dixie Dean look like Chris Armstrong this season with 63 goals in 52 games. Barcelona are favourites to become the first club to retain the Champions League since its rebranding in 1992. Chelsea's late season revival under Roberto Di Matteo has been well-timed for this almighty semi-final challenge. Their record against the Basque giants is decent (despite the acrimonious 2009 defeat on away goals) and, of course, Messi has never scored against them in six attempts. It's nearly time. Let's crack on, shall we?
1925: Here's a smattering of your pre-match views. "Chelsea have been sub-standard all season. Barca will rip them apart. Messi hat-trick?" says Alex in Altrincham. Paul in Northampton reckons: "i'd like to predict a 2/3 nil to chelsea. but this is barca. they have to play better than the benfica game or they'll get hammered. on that basis it doesn't bode well. but what chelsea need is vintage old guard. drogba is the key tonight. Messi? Hope not." Pip in Nottingham adds: "This games gona have plenty of goals but alot of dramatics I think from both teams! Messy's on fire and looking to get his first goal against chelsea but i think he's gona get more than just 1!!barcelona 3-2 chelsea."
1845:The team sheets are in. Didier Drogba has been chosen ahead of Fernando Torres up front for Chelsea. David Luiz (hamstring) is out of both legs of this semi-final so John Terry and Gary Cahill start in central defence after both are passed fit. Branislav Ivanovic is available during his domestic three-match suspension and will be at right-back. Barcelona are in their familiar 4-3-3 formation but Gerard Pique has only been deemed fit enough for the bench. Dani Alves is back from a thigh injury to fill in at right-back so Javier Mascherano starts at centre back alongside Carles Puyol. Both line-ups are below.
- Champions League
- 18 April 2012, 6:45pm
- Stamford Bridge
Chelsea will take a 1-0 lead to the Nou Camp after Didier Drogba's goal saw them beat Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final first leg.
The Blues once again proved the nemesis of the team feted by many as the greatest to play the game thanks to an amazing smash-and-grab display at a jubilant Stamford Bridge.
Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo's plan paid off spectacularly, Drogba scoring the winner to go some way to burying the demons of the sides' last meeting three years ago.
As well as being magnificent to a man in carrying out the instructions of Di Matteo - whose claim to be appointed manager on a full-time basis is becoming irresistible - Chelsea also enjoyed the kind of luck that deserted them in 2009 and which they have had in spades since the Italian took charge.
They may need plenty more at the Nou Camp on Tuesday to reach their second final after Barca missed a glut of chances after dominating possession from start to finish.
The pattern of the match was set the moment the visitors kicked off, Chelsea allowing them possession to a point and Raul Meireles leading the pressure behind Drogba.
From a defensive point of view, it largely worked, although the visitors should have taken one of the chances to have fallen their way.
Luck played a part in the first of them in the ninth minute, Alexis Sanchez chipping against the crossbar from Andres Iniesta's perfectly-timed pass.
The other two both fell to Cesc Fabregas courtesy of Lionel Messi, who was otherwise restricted to a quiet half.
The first was a sitter, Fabregas shanking his finish after Messi's burst and pass had set up Andres Iniesta for a shot Petr Cech parried.
Messi finally had the chance to build up a real head of steam two minutes before half-time, Fabregas this time producing a delightful dink which was only kept out by Ashley Cole's clearance off the line.
Otherwise Chelsea had plenty to give them hope from what little ball they had.
The benefit of going long was quickly demonstrated when only a heavy touch prevented Drogba capitalising on Cech's clearance.
Drogba, who got away with overstepping the mark when he trod on Sergio Busquets' foot, also failed to make the most of a one-on-one with Carles Puyol.
Long throws predictably unsettled Barca, too, and Gary Cahill almost took advantage of the first of them.
Chelsea did tread a fine line discipline-wise, with Meireles lucky not to pick up a booking that would see him suspended for the second leg.
"Same old Barca, always cheating," chanted the home fans whenever a Barca player went down.
They were in good spirits despite the deluge, which may have played a part in Drogba scoring with the final kick of the first half.
Barca were caught upfield and Frank Lampard's ball over the top sent Ramires rampaging forward, the Brazilian's cross picking out Drogba.
Victor Valdes should have saved the scuffed finish but could only help it into the net.
Barca were even more dominant after the restart, Cech parrying Adriano's curler before Sanchez missed another gilt-edge chance when he stabbed Fabregas' scooped pass wide from six yards.
Otherwise they were being kept at bay by a world-class defensive display led by Cahill and John Terry, who were almost single-handedly keeping Messi at bay.
Pep Guardiola sent on Pedro for Sanchez with 24 minutes remaining, with Barca becoming increasingly frustrated, not least with perceived play-acting from Drogba, who got an earful from Puyol.
There was finally a booking when Ramires tripped Messi in full flight, Pedro quickly following for a similar offence on Cole.
Busquets was also cautioned for scything down Ramires after Juan Mata was withdrawn for Salomon Kalou.
Fabregas left the field to a chorus of boos for Thiago Alcantara as Chelsea began to drop deeper and deeper, as they had done three years earlier.
Barca laid siege to the Blues goal and Cech produced a magnificent save three minutes' from time when Puyol glanced Messi's free-kick towards the corner.
And, in stoppage-time, the visitors saved their worst finish until last, Busquets skying high over the crossbar after Pedro's effort had hit the post.