Chelsea knocked Liverpool out the Champions League for the second consecutive season in surely one of the most epic encounters the Champions League has ever seen. A Frank Lampard brace, an Alex free kick, a Guus Hiddink rant and a dodgy Spanish keeper helped Chelsea set up yet another clash with Barcelona.
In a very one sided first half, Liverpool, without the injured Steven Gerrard, went two goals up, an Aurelio free kick that Cech anticipated would be whipped into the box was instead perfectly placed in Cech’s bottom left corner, Xavi Alonso was fouled by Ivanovic in the box and from the resulting penalty sent Petr Cech the wrong way. Frank Lampard’s free kick at 0-0 was our best chance of the half, and an ineffective Kalou was brought off after 35 minutes for Anelka.
Without Gerrard or Riise to gift us a goal someone had to step up, and within six minutes of the restart, Reina filled that void, Nicolas Anelka’s cross was slightly deflected by Drogba, fooling Reina who fumbled the ball into his own net, what was initially given as an Own Goal was changed when replays showed that Drogba’s interception put it on target. There were taunts of ‘Let’s all do the Reina’ from the MHL, unfortunately however, everytime they had a goal kick the ball was thrown straight back, as opposed to keeping it and forcing him to watch the flapping gestures.
Drogba then hit a free kick agonisingly wide, with half of the East Stand thinking it had gone in. Five minutes after our first goal, Alex’s thunderbolt of a free kick levelled the scores on the night. Suddenly it was the Chelsea fans turn to make a noise, with their adversaries in disbelief. Frank Lampard looked to have then put the tie beyond doubt when he tapped in a low Drogba cross from the West Stand. Michael Ballack then had the chance to put the game beyond doubt, but Drogba’s roll back was met with a rather tame effort that Reina had no problems saving.
I was having flashbacks of the 4-2 in the F.A cup, two nil down at half time, and winning 4-2, it seemed this could be the case again until Lucas’ long range shot was deflected off Essien, sending Cech the wrong way, and minutes later Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool a 4-3 lead with a near post header, the Liverpool fans got louder by this point, knowing another goal would see them through. This was now the third time in our last two matches that we had got complacent, both at home too.
The home fans nerves were calmed with an almost carbon copy of Ballack’s chance, this time it was Anelka rolling the ball back and it was Lampard with the first time strike, the shot hit both posts and went in, making it 4-4, killing off any remaining hope Liverpool had of one of the most dramatic of comebacks. The last piece of drama was a Michael Essien headed goal-line clearance from Alonso’s shot.
The DJ, who has this season been deprived of being able to play One Step Beyond (Well – other then after Stoke match) got his chance, as a jubilant Chelsea crowd capped off a memorable evening. The inevitable was then announced over the PA system, that Barcelona had qualified too.
Ashley Cole picked up a booking and misses the first leg at the Nou Camp, Carvalho and Anelka will miss the return leg should they be booked in the first leg.