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Chelsea 3 - 2 Valencia


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Valencia.jpgChelsea 3 - 2 ValenciaUEFA Champions League, Quarter Final, 1st Leg - 4th April 2007 - Stamford Bridge - 19:45 kick-off_42767815_drogba_pa_203.jpgMichael Essien scored the winner for Chelsea exactly on 90 minutes, to see them beat Valencia C.F. 1-2 at the Estadio Mestalla and 3-2 on aggregate, to possibly set-up a repeat of the Champions League semi-finals of 2005 with an encounter with either Liverpool or PSV Eindhoven.It was José Mourinho's Chelsea side that bested the only-remaining Spanish team left in the competition, leaving Fernando Morientes and company dreaming of what could have been.Following 180 minutes of evenly-contested football, the fluent passing and technique of the likes of David Villa, David Silva and Joaquin Sanchez locked horns with the defensive strength and counter-attacking quality of Michael Essien, Joe Cole and John Obi Mikel as Quique Sanchez Flores tested his ability against the best manager in Europe in José Mourinho.Yet for all their skill and their allegedly unbreachable defence at their aging-yet-impressive Mestalla stadium, they were left on the back foot for pretty much the entire duration of the tie as Chelsea searched for goals. But in the first tie at Stamford Bridge, it was David Silva, the young Spanish international who broke the deadlock with a fantastic goal, before Didier Drogba equalised, setting up a memorable European night for Chelsea.After suffering defeat in only three of their sixteen previous Champions League games, at the hands of Werder Bremen, and Real Betis and Barcelona of Spain, Chelsea have had the measure of Spanish teams, with a 4-0 thrashing of Betis and a 1-0 win over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, and two draws at the Nou Camp, 1-1 and 2-2 respectively. And coming into the return leg on much good form, Chelsea were still on course for a historic Quadruple.For the first tie, Michael Essien was still suffering from an injury picked up in the equally-thrilling 3-3 draw with Tottenham in the FA Cup, and so Salomon Kalou replaced him, after scoring the winner against Watford. Lassana Diarra was recalled at right-back, and John Obi Mikel was preferred to Claude Makelele in the holding role. Most significantly, however, was the return of Joe Cole; who was named as a substitute.The game began at the high tempo, with Valencia riding on the waves of extreme good fortune. Roberto Ayala was not punished for an obvious elbow on Andrei Shevchenko, leaving the £30.8 million Ukrainian sprawled across the ground. As to how the referee did not deem the clash as a foul, let alone give a penalty bemused José Mourinho and the capacity crowd at Stamford Bridge.They were perhaps even more fortunate when red-hot Salomon Kalou turned sharply and lashed a vicious drive against the crossbar with veteran 'keeper Santiago Canizares beaten. _42767587_sheva416.jpgFormer Chelsea defender Asier del Horno looks on as Andrei Shevchenko berates the referee.Following their good luck, Valencia switched to a more attack-minded 4-4-2, with the impressive David Silva alongside David Villa in the Spanish attack. After a shaky start on his return to Chelsea, full-back del Horno came to terms with the darting runs of Salomon Kalou, and the Valencia midfielders closed down an authoritive Michael Ballack, who was making one of his most impressive performances in a Chelsea shirt. John Obi Mikel failed to settle in the first half, and David Silva was given room. He almost made it 0-1 to Valencia, but he could not latch onto Joaquin's dragged shot. The unmarked striker was onside and just four yards out, with Petr Cech on the floor at his near post. The young Spaniard began to dictate the play, and was involved in the Valencia defence, midfield and found himself in plenty of room. Despite Frank Lampard breathing down his neck, with Diarra backing off and Mikel nowhere to be seen, he launched an optimistic effort goalbound from 27 yards at an improbably angle; beating the world's best goalkeeper in the process to give Valencia an extremely important away goal._42767465_silva416.jpgThe impressive David Silva escapes Lampard to stun Stamford Bridge. Chelsea 0 - 1 ValenciaJosé Mourinho came to the touch-line, but even the Special One could not give Chelsea inspiration in a limp first half display. Yet come the second period, Chelsea played with more speed and in more space, giving Lampard and Ballack a route up front to aid Drogba and Kalou who were receiving little service.And it was the young Ivorian that nearly put Chelsea on level terms, but his swing for the ball was mis-qued after Lassana Diarra had broken free of del Horno to put in a teasing cross.But his international colleague Didier Drogba, having been stuck on 29 goals for the season since the game at Portsmouth in early March put parity between the two sides, as he latched onto Ashley Cole's punt to head over the struggling Canizares, who was clearly in two minds as to come for the ball or not. Drogba's cushioned header was his 30th of a remarkable season, and one of his most important undoubtedly._42767485_drogba300.jpgSantiago Canizares watches helplessly as Drogba's header lobs the goalkeeper, much to the delight of the home crowd. Chelsea 1 - 1 Valencia.Andrei Shevchenko's spectacular overhead kick was diverted wide for a corner, and Ricardo Carvalho's hopeful poke was blocked from 6 yards. Mikel's obvious improvement at marking Silva left Villa without service, as John Terry and company looked for an early night.With 16 minutes remaining, Jose Mourinho opted to use wide players as Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips came on for Chelsea replacing John Obi Mikel and Kalou.With the first leg ending a-goal-a-piece, the tie was delicately set-up with the return at the Mestalla just 6 days later.Squads and RatingsChelsea: Cech, Diarra, Terry, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Wright-Phillips 74), Ballack, Lampard, Mikel (Joe Cole 74), Shevchenko, Drogba. Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Makelele, Boulahrouz, Bridge, Ferreira. Booked: Drogba, Diarra. Goals: Drogba 53. Valencia: Canizares, Miguel, Ayala, Moretti, Del Horno, Vicente (Angulo 57), Albelda, Albiol, Joaquin (Hugo Viana 86), Silva, Villa (Jorge Lopez 90). Subs Not Used: Butelle, Curro Torres, Nacho Insa, Pallardo. Booked: Silva, Albelda, Ayala. Goals: Silva 30. Chelsea Formation and RatingsPetr Cech7/10Diarra .... Terry ..... Carvalho ..... A.Cole7/10 .........8/10 ........ 8/10.......... 7/10Ballack .... Kalou ..... Mikel....... Lampard8/10 .........6/10 ........ 7/10.......... 6/10Drogba .......... Shevchenko7/10 ............ 7/10Referee - Frank De Bleeckere had a below-par game, with the Belgium man failing to give Chelsea an obvious penalty kick. 5/10.JT.jpg

Chelsea 3 - 2 ValenciaUEFA Champions League, Quarter Final, 2nd Leg - 10th April 2007 - Estadio Mestalla - 19:45 kick-offFor the return leg, a surprise inclusion for Chelsea was that of Michael Essien who had been declared fit in the morning. Salomon Kalou was the only change to the starting XI of the previous leg, as his slot behind the strikers was vacated in order for Essien to start. Joe Cole was once more on the bench, following another 10 minutes of action against Tottenham at the weekend.Valencia welcomed back Fernando Morientes, a name that still haunts Chelsea's fans of 2004. The man who virtually single-handedly put Chelsea out of Europe at the semi-final stage in the 2003-04 campaign for AS Monaco. Yet his team were beaten 3-0 in the final by F.C. Porto - coincidentally led by a certain José Mourinho. Migel Angel Angulo was dropped to the bench following his run-out at the weekend, and Vicente was absent due to injury.The game was a cagey affair during the opening exchanges, with Chelsea by far having the better of the possession and the chances. Ricardo Carvalho and Andrei Shevchenko both headed wide with difficult chances, but Michael Ballack's on-target bullet header was well-gathered at the feet of Canizares. With half an hour gone, Valencia decided to turn up the heat. Joaquin put in a teasing cross, and as the Chelsea defence switched off, their least favourite nemesis put the ball in the back of the net. Stretching, Fernando Morientes managed to steer the ball past Petr Cech, who could only grasp at thin air as the ball slid under him.

_42785443_morientes300.jpgClearly pleased by his goal, Fernando Morientes wheeled away to celebrate with David Villa. Meanwhile, a dejected Chelsea are berated by an enraged Petr Cech as Michael Essien looks on. Chelsea 1 - 2 Valencia._42785461_chels416.jpgEarlier, Morientes had hit the post with Cech stranded and hit the rebound wide, leaving Chelsea gasping for a break in play.Six minutes later, Santiago Canizares pulled off one of the most stunning saves of the Champions League 2006-2007 campaign as he clawed away Drogba's top-corner-bound header with an athletic parry.After the half-time break, Joe Cole replaced the struggling Lassana Diarra. Immediately making an impression, he set up what was a crucial goal for Chelsea. Winning a free-kick, Essien lofted the ball into the Valencia box. Drogba tried to power the ball into the goal, but for an exceptional block by Roberto Ayala, who had been booked earlier. However, the ball fell kindly to Andrei Shevchenko, who powered home from three yards._42785619_shev416.jpgShevchenko celebrates his 14th Chelsea goal, and his 59th European Goal for Kyiv, Milan and Chelsea. Chelsea 2 - 2 Valencia.Drogba decided placement over power, and his shot was gathered by Canizares. Moments later, a moment parallel to Banks and Pele resulted in Michael Ballack's goal-bound header being palmed over the bar in amazing fashion by Canizares.But the 37-year-old shot-stopper went from hero to zero when he failed to mark his near post, and Michael Essien's superb drive found the back of the net to win the tie for Chelsea, becoming the first English team to win at the Mestalla in 10 games._42785649_essien416.jpgThe Blues were chuffed with their winning goal, as clearly visible from Michael Ballack's face. Chelsea 3 - 2 Valencia.Squads and RatingsValencia: Canizares, Miguel, Ayala, Moretti, Del Horno, Joaquin, Albelda, Albiol (Hugo Viana 72), Silva, Morientes (Angulo 65), Villa.Subs Not Used: Butelle, Jorge Lopez, Curro Torres, Nacho Insa, Pallardo. Booked: Del Horno, Albelda, Ayala, Moretti. Goals: Morientes 32. Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Joe Cole 46), Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard (Makelele 90), Ballack, Shevchenko (Kalou 90), Drogba.Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bridge, Ferreira, Wright-Phillips. Booked: Essien, Ballack. Goals: Shevchenko 52, Essien 90.Chelsea Formation and RatingsPetr Cech7/10Diarra .... Terry ..... Carvalho ..... A.Cole5/10 .........7/10 ........ 8/10.......... 8/10Ballack .... Essien ..... Mikel....... Lampard7/10 .........8/10 ........ 7/10.......... 6/10Drogba .......... Shevchenko7/10 ............ 8/10Referee - Kyros Vassaras had a good game - albeit slightly biased towards Chelsea - 8/10

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