The turning point in this game came in the 56th minute when Anders Frisk sent off Didier Drogba. The Swedish referee made a huge blunder in sending off Drogba who was legitimately going for a ball that was there to be won ahead of Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdés, he could of possibly scored as well. Frisk with a view from behind Drogba 20 yards away decided to show Drogba his second yellow card of the night which meant for the second time in the space of a few days we had another player sent off. From that moment on we were under the cosh as Barcelona piled forward and scored two goals in the space of six minutes. Even with Barcelona scoring two goals in no way does it put us out of this tie, in fact with our away goal the second leg is set up to be a cracker at Stamford Bridge in two weeks time.
The game at the Camp Nou was also set up to be a cracker. The last time Chelsea had gone there was in 2000, I’m sure the majority of Chelsea fans know what the score was that particular night after we’d won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. In the pre-match press conference yesterday Jose Mourinho named his ‘team’ for the game, he also named what he thought would be the Barcelona team. Come the kick off this evening Damien Duff was included in the starting line-up. Yesterday Mourinho hadn’t named him due to the fact he’d picked up a knee injury on Sunday up at Newcastle. It was a great boost to see Duff this evening; he was the player that set up our goal and gave us a fantastic start. In the first half we didn’t have much possession, however, Barcelona didn’t really look like unlocking our defence. Every Barca attack came to nothing, they were restricted to long shots or when they managed to get down the flanks play was broken up and we regained the ball.
On one particular Barcelona attack Ricardo Carvalho broke up the play and played a ball to Frank Lampard just inside our own area. With the Barcelona defenders almost pushing up to the half way line Lamps hit the ball over the top with Damien Duff breaking the offside trap. Duffer took a fantastic first touch bringing the ball down and running down the right, he crossed only for Barcelona defender Belletti to turn the ball into his own net, if he hadn’t of turned the ball in then Joe Cole was there for a simple tap in. 0-1 up at the Camp Nou! After that we gained a little confidence, a few minutes later it could have been 0-2. Another ball played over the top of the Barca defence found Drogba free; with only the keeper to beat unfortunately he hit the ball wide. At 0-2 it could have been a repeat of Lazio in Rome last season. However Anders Frisk and his over dramatic idiosyncrasies stopped us being the first British team to beat Barca at their amazing ground.
The second half started much the same as the first, Barca were all huff and puff but they couldn’t blow down our defence. Ronaldinho looked ordinary, Deco looked average and Eto’o may have well been in Cameroon! Then came disaster, Drogba who got booked in the first half for a nothing challenge went in for a ball with Valdés only for Frisk to somehow not understand what a 50-50 ball is in a real time challenge. Frisk ran over to Drogba who was at this point lying on the ground and brandished the second yellow. After that it inspired Barcelona, Frank Rijkaard decided to bring on Maxi Lopez for Giuly and it was all one-way traffic. For a while we contained Barcelona but tiredness began to creep in as it was backs against the wall, in the 66th minute Maxi Lopez bought it back to 1-1. He’d only been on the pitch for three minutes when he received a ball from Samuel Eto’o and crashed a shot past Petr Cech. It wasn’t too long after that the home team made it 2-1. Maxi Lopez was again involved, his shot was going wide, Carvalho could have been more alert but Eto’o crept in behind and steered the ball into the back of the net. Barca created more chances but our defence held out with both John Terry and Tiago getting cramp in the latter stages of the game. It may not have been a win, but the away goal was very important, we can come back to the Bridge with heads held high and another fantastic night at home with our passionate crowd behind us and Anders Frisk somewhere else in Europe we’ll only need a single goal, who knows, we may have Arjen Robben back, we may not, but it’d be a game that I’m sure he’d love to play in. Keep the faith; stay positive, come March 8 shout and cheer on Chelsea to victory. We can do it!
Valdés, Belletti (Gerard 85), Marquez, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst, Xavi, Deco, Albertini (Iniesta 57), Giuly (Maxi Lopez 64), Ronaldinho, Eto’o
Subs Not Used: Jorquera, Sylvinho, Fernando, Abella Perez.
Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Gallas, Makelele, Lampard, Cole (Johnson 70), Duff (Gudjohnsen 76), Tiago (Smertin 90), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Kezman, Geremi, Nuno Morais.
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)