Didier Drogba gives Chelsea improbable win over Barca

Apr 19, 2012
Bill Mann

It will go down as one of our best nights, says Terry after dogged defence keeps Messi and co at bay

Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0. They rattled the woodwork twice, had the ball cleared off the line and saw one effort brilliantly saved – none of which mattered as Barcelona came away from the Bridge with it all to do in next week's Champions League semi-final second leg.

For long periods of last night's rain-swept encounter, the reigning European champions dominated their hosts but Chelsea were resolute in defence and tireless in midfield, and lady luck rewarded them for their efforts.

In all, Barcelona created 24 chances to Chelsea's five as the Spanish giants suffered their first Champions League defeat in 14 months. Asked later if he felt his side had been "mugged" at Stamford Bridge, Barca coach Pep Guardiola replied: "If football is about counting possession we would win every game. The game is about putting the football in the goal. The challenge now is to create 24 chances again but maybe we will need to show more adventure and risk a bit more."

Guardiola had no hesitation in making Chelsea favourites to qualify for next month's final in Munich, telling reporters that it wouldn't be hard to work out how the Premier League outfit will approach next week's return leg in the Camp Nou. "One nil is a good result for them. You can imagine them having 10 players behind the ball again."

Barcelona began the first leg in typically flamboyant style, moving the ball around with pinpoint accuracy as Chelsea chased shadows on the sodden Stamford Bridge turf.

Alexis Sanchez had the first opportunity to give the visitors the lead on nine minutes only to see his chip hit the crossbar. Cesc Fabregas then sliced a shot from six yards out with the goal at his mercy. Not long after, the former Arsenal captain saw his shot cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.

Chelsea, meanwhile, had hardly mustered an attack before Frank Lampard dispossessed Lionel Messi just inside the Blues' half on the stroke of half-time. The England midfielder picked out Ramires with a wonderful pass and the Brazilian surged forward before squaring to Didier Drogba who fired the ball past Victor Valdes for his 38th goal in the Champions League. It was Chelsea's only shot on target.

Barcelona continued to boss the game in the second period, enjoying 72 per cent of the possession, but Chelsea blunted their attack, allowing little space for the likes of Messi and Fabregas to create openings. Instead it was Carles Puyol who came closest to equalising with a backwards header which Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal somehow managed to keep out with his fingertips.

Chelsea continued to hold on in stoppage time as substitute Pedro hit the post and Sergio Busquets failed to hit the mark with the follow-up.
"It was almost perfect," said Chelsea caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo. "When you play Barcelona, you have to do a lot of defending and they have all the possession. You have to limit their threat and be clinical when you get your chances."

It was a night on which the Chelsea defence in particular could be proud, pointing to the fact that Messi failed to score for only the second time in his last 15 matches. "It will go down as one of our best nights," said skipper John Terry. "It was a tireless performance and we didn't touch the ball for the first 15 minutes... but we're not in awe of them, and another performance like that and we'll be okay."

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