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Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool


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Chelsea F.C. 3 - 2 Liverpool

April 30 2008, UEFA Champions League Semi Final, Second Leg, Stamford Bridge, West London


A Didier Drogba brace and a Frank Lampard penalty earned Chelsea a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

May 8, 2005. William Gallas looks a dejected figure as he lies motionless on the Anfield turf. A single goal from Luis Garcia settles a tight encounter, but television replays indicate the ball did not cross the line. Memories of the 'Phantom Goal' still haunt Chelsea.

May 1, 2007. Dirk Kuyt seals a penalty shoot-out win for Liverpool as Chelsea yet again fall at the final hurdle in the Champions League. José Mourinho and his players trudge off a water-logged pitch disappointed once more. Steven Gerrard celebrates as Liverpool reach a second final in three seasons.

April 30, 2008. Didier Drogba celebrates with the Stamford Bridge faithful after his brace sends Chelsea through to the final of the European Cup for the first in time in its history. The terraces ring with the jubilation and emotion of the fans as Avram Grant collapses to his knees, succumbing to the realisation he has succeeded where his predecessor failed.

And the Chelsea manager offered a humbling showing of dignity in his post-match interview, dedicating his greatest achievement to the memory of the many people who were killed during the Holocaust on its anniversary. The moving sentiment, coupled with the exchange of a loving glance between a teary-eyed Frank Lampard and his father underline the passion, commitment and dedication of the Chelsea side.

As the midfielder stepped up to take a penalty won by Michael Ballack after he had been fouled by Sammi Hyypia, Stamford Bridge fell quiet as the Chelsea number 8 placed the ball on the spot. But the player showed his mettle by sending Jose Reina the wrong way, and as he produced a black armband in memory of his mother, Chelsea knew that destiny was their ally. Memories of Anfield in previous campaigns were washed away by the heavy downpours as Stamford Bridge erupted at the end of extra-time.

Grant elected to make two changes to the side that earned a respectable 1-1 draw at Anfield due to John Arne Riise's own-goal that cancelled out Dirk Kuyt's opener. Michael Essien returned from suspension, whilst Salomon Kalou returned in place of French winger Florent Malouda. Lampard returned to the side after missing Saturday's game with Manchester United, and Didier Drogba retained his place ahead of Nicolas Anelka.

Chelsea started brightly and looked to put home advantage to good use, creating a number of opportunities in the opening minutes. Drogba tested Reina in a number of occasions, and but for a matter of inches, came close to opening the scoring from an acute angle after being played in magnificently by Lampard. The Ivorian later powered a blockbuster of a strike from 25 yards that forced the Spanish goalkeeper into a diving save - Reina did well to push the ball away for a corner after the ball skidded along an increasingly-saturated surface.

They made a deserved breakthrough when Kalou was played in by Lampard's first-time pass. Cutting inside his marker, he curled the ball to the far post only to see it parried strongly by Reina. However the ball fell only to Kalou's compatriot Drogba, who rifled home from 12 yards, beating Reina at his near post. The Chelsea forward celebrated by skidding along the touchline by the Liverpool bench, in light of the Liverpool manager Benitez labelling the Ivorian as a 'cheater.' Michael Ballack went close to doubling the lead prior to half-time, but his 25-yard free kick sailed inches wide of the top corner with Reina beaten.

Liverpool were failing to create the necessary chances, as only Torres had forced Cech into a meaningful save in the opening minutes; the Spaniard cutting inside Terry but finding his route to goal blocked by the tall Czech goalkeeper, who made a smart parry.

Yet something seemed to galvanise the visiting side after the interval, and they were level on 64 minutes, with Torres netting his 31st goal of the season. Yossi Bennayoun capitalised on a loose pass and threaded the ball to the feet of the Spanish striker, who turned and finished with aplomb. Chelsea were losing rhythm and Liverpool had taken much heart from the goal, and the away side were clearly in the ascendancy. Cech was forced into action several times, denying Kuyt brilliantly with his foot, and making several excellent catches whilst under pressure from the Dutch forward. Slowly but surely, Chelsea were regaining a foothold in the game.

Extra-time was required with the score locked at 1-1, and Chelsea demonstrated their incredible spirit and immense fitness by battering the Anfield side with a salvo of goals in the first half of the additional thirty minutes. Essien spanked the ball home from 20 yards with less than 120 seconds played, but the goal was ruled out as Didier Drogba appeared to be offside and interfering with play. Chelsea were furious, but regained the initiative within a matter of minutes.

Ballack turned in the box before being hacked down by Hyypia, a first-half replacement for the injured Skrtel. Lampard stepped up and finished from 12 yards, sending Reina the wrong way. As Lampard wept over the loss of his mother, so did the heavens - the conditions ever worsening.

Yet nothing seemed to be able to dampen the spirits of the home side, clearly inspired by the bravery of their vice-captain. Being marshalled by the ever-reliable pairing of Terry and Carvalho, the Blues hit Liverpool on the counter-attack as the away side poured forward looking for another goal. However Drogba finished from 8 yards after Anelka had combined with Essien to break the offside trap before squaring the ball to the Ivorian. Anelka - introduced as a substitute early in extra-time, danced in celebration, earning an assist against his former employers.

Chelsea were bossing matters but Liverpool looked to have found a way back into the tie when Ryan Babel struck from 35 yards. The Dutchman shot specutively, but the ball spun wickedly in the air and could only bounce off the gloves of Petr Cech and rustle the net. But Liverpool had given everything and the superior fitness of the home side saw them through to the finish line. Cue hysteria at Stamford Bridge.

Match Fact : Chelsea are unbeaten in 81 home league matches and 101 in all domestic competitions.

Chelsea: Cech (5), Essien (8), Carvalho (7), Terry (7), Ashley Cole (7), Joe Cole (5) (Anelka (6)), Ballack (6), Makelele (6), Lampard (9) (Shevchenko (6)), Kalou (5) (Malouda (6)), Drogba (9)

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (Hyypia 22), Riise, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun (Pennant 78), Gerrard, Torres (Babel 99)

Attendance: 38,900

Referee: Roberto Rosetti

Man of the Match : Didier Drogba


Edited by BlueLion
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