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Chelsea 2 - 1 Porto


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Chelsea versus F.C. PortoUEFA Champions League, Round of 16: Second Leg - 06/March/07, 19:45 kick-off - Stamford Bridge

241966405_cec3cee3ed.jpg

Chelsea overcame the potential banana-skin of F.C. Porto in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, coming away with a 3-2 aggregate win over two very tight legs.

Michael Ballack scored the winner in the return leg at Stamford Bridge after Quaresma had put the Portuguese side ahead on aggregate with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock. Arjen Robben had been fortunate to score a lucky equaliser thanks to bad handling from 'keeper Helton, after Raul Meireles and Andrei Shevchenko had scored in the first leg, which ended 1-1.There was much anticipation about the tie before a game was kicked, and the two legs themselves caused much controversy. With José Mourinho's job still apparantly in jeopardy, the self-proclaimed "Special One" had claimed that he would "get a new job within two months" should Blues owner Roman Abramovich sack him, whilst claiming to be the greatest manager that Portugal had ever produced at the same time,

_42599395_terry_getty416.jpgJohn Terry is stretched off in the first leg - only to return to the action four days later for the Carling Cup Final - in which he was stretched off yet again.

Injury affected the starting line-ups of both teams, with Chelsea once again being forced to leave out influential skipper John Terry after being knocked unconscious a little over a week ago. Khalid Boulahrouz had been declared fit to play, but José Mourinho left him out of the starting eleven, instead choosing to play Essien as centre-back.For Porto, right-back Bosingwa had picked up a knock in the 1-0 league victory over Braga, and Fucile, who had played as left-back in the first leg, took over his position.Bouyed by their away goal scored by Shevchenko, the Blues were the faster out of the starting traps yet Porto were equally sharp. However, the English Champions became complacent and their passing wayward. Porto had the better of the opening exchanges, playing mganificantly, which shamed the West London outfit's woeful attempt at gaining possession, let alone keep it.Their miseries were further compounded when Quaresma, following excellent footwork from Lucho Gonzalez, beat the offside trap and slid the ball underneath the approaching Petr Cech with relative ease. The Champions had previously gone 709 minutes without conceding at home in any competition, yet their smabolic defending hardly gave sufficient protection to the Czech's goal.

_42649163_chelsea416.jpgThe new image of Chelsea Football Club

The Blues could have had their night ruined by Lucho Gonzalez, who broke through and from a position not too dissimilar from where Quaresma scored, had his effort parried away by Cech.One of Chelsea's few chances came from their most-attack-minded player of the first half, their left back Ashley Cole. Linking well with Robben on the left flank, the Englishman put in several delightful crosses, but neither Michael Ballack's diving header nor Andrei Shevchenko could test Brazilian goalkeeper Helton. Porto ended the half by far the better team, with Chelsea looking disjointed.Whatever José Mourinho said to the team at half-time certainly worked. They came out with John Obi Mikel amongst the ranks, with the young Nigerian replacing the aging legs of Claude Makelele. The young man was to turn out to be the star of the show, as he bossed the midfield and kept Gonzalez and Quaresma quiet with his excellent defensive play. Mourinho now has a selection crisis - with four excellent players suited to the defensive midfield role - Makelele, Mikel, Essien and Diarra, the Chelsea manager finally has a good problem, if ever such a thing exists, for the first time this campaign.If Porto had limited Chelsea to just two efforts on goal during the first half, then Chelsea limited Porto to playing football in their own half only. Robben cut inside after switching flanks and launched a relatively tame shot at 'keeper Helton. However, as the Brazilian dived to scoop up the loose ball, it bounced and he had no time to push the ball away, as it bounched over his body and into the back of the goal. With the score now 1-1 on the night and level on aggregate, extra time looked mroe and more likely as the Blues went searching for that extra goal.Mikel and Lampard both had efforts just inches wide, as the team resorted to testing the shaky goalkeeper who took a while to calm his nerves, much to the amusement of the home crowd. Robben continually tested him with teasing crosses, but the experienced shot shotstopper regaine dhsi composure and made two excellent takes.

_42649397_ballack300.jpg_42649405_cole300.jpgYou might be forgiven for thinking Michael Ballack is about to kill someone. Actually, he's celebrating his goal. Ashley Cole and Arjen Robben certainly enjoyed it, too.

The most ellegant of the night's football lead to the winning goal. Ashley Cole found Drogba, who nodded the ball onto Shevchenko, who cushione dhis header on the swinging left boot of Michael Ballack, whose volley was powered underneath the despairing dive of the Porto goalkeeper. 3-2 on aggregate, and just 11 minutes of the tie remaining, a place in the Quarter-Finals for the third time in four years seemed imminent.But if Chelsea thought that they would knock Porto with their goal, they were wrong. Falling behind, Porto managed to gather their thoughts and launch several attacks of their own, but after four minutes of stoppage time and some well-worked time wasting by Drogba and Cech, the tie was Chelsea's, and José Mourinho got one over his formed side for the second time since leaving.

_42649313_jose416.jpgThe Special One usually gets what he wants. This time he was asking for a performance.

The Line-Ups

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Ferreira 65), Essien, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Makelele (Mikel 46), Robben, Ballack, Lampard, Shevchenko (Kalou 84), Drogba.Subs Not Used: Hilario, Boulahrouz, Bridge, Wright-Phillips. Booked: Robben, Diarra. Goals: Robben 48, Ballack 79. FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Cech (Ibson 55), Gonzalez, Ricardo Costa, Paulo Assuncao, Raul Meireles (Adriano 55), Lopez (Bruno Moraes 82), Quaresma.Subs Not Used: Vitor Baia, Alan, Postiga, Joao Paulo. Booked: Quaresma, Fucile, Adriano. Goals: Quaresma 15.

The Ratings

How They RatedChelseaPetr Cech - 7 - Good. Wasn't at fault for goal.Diarra - 7 - Confident. Gallons of energy. Carvalho - 7 - Prolific. Looked assured.Essien - 8 - Strong. Mopped up everything.Cole - 8 - Stern. Strong defesively and went forward well.Ballack - 7 - Influential. Good goal by midfielder..Robben - 8 - Good. Involved in link-up work and well-taken goal.Makelele - 7 - Consistent. Linked well with defence.Lampard - 4 - Shadow. Woeful perofmance.Drogba - 7 - Quiet. Quiet by his standards but sublime finish.Shevchenko - 7 - Tried. Worked hard.Mikel - 9 - Magnificant. Replaced Makelele.Kalou - 7 - No time. Replaced Shevchenko.Ferreira - 7 - Involved. Replaced Diarra.Overall team rating - 7Porto rating - 8 - they tried their best and they outplayed the Champions at times, but class previlaed and the fortress of Stamford Bridge holds strong.Referee - 5 - Roberto Rosetti was poor and booked players for simulation, and was biased towards Porto for much of the game.

Stats

Attendence: 39014Possession: Chelsea 48% - 52% PortoShots - On: Chelsea 5 - 3 PortoShots - Off: Chelsea 8 - 1 PortoCorners: Chelsea 5 - 0 PortoFouls: Chelsea 11 - 16 Porto

Star Man

2819.jpgJon Obi Mikel

Reaction

The Blues are through into the last eight for the third time in four years, with the belief they can go all the way. They ground out a result once more, without playing their best, but some good football lead to two goals which ultimately won the tie. With the big clubs knocking each other out of the competition, Chelsea's path to the Semi-Finals should surely be lesser tougher than earlier predicted.

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