It was déjà vu at the Bridge last night as Chelsea, once again, overcame a 3-1 deficit to power in to the last four of the Champions League. There were heroes all over the pitch for the Blues but the plaudits will go to the unlikeliest of them all, Demba Ba. His late, late winner sent the home support in to frenzy and led to Jose Mourinho doing his Usain Bolt impression down the touchline.
This victory was very impressive and Mourinho’s love affair with the trophy continues. JT stated, in his post match interview, that Chelsea practised for three or four different scenarios. Only ‘the special one’ would do that. His attention to detail and tactical nous, in the big matches, is second to none and he deserves credit for that. He recognised that our midfielders were exhausted and therefore decided to go long, in the knowledge that PSG were not used to the aerial bombardment.
PSG started well and enjoyed plenty of possession in the first period. Lampard had said pre match that Chelsea needed to be patient and the opportunities would come. How right he was. Mourinho’s plans took a knock on eighteen minutes when talisman Eden Hazard limped off with a calf strain. He was replaced by Andre Schurrle who was largely anonymous in the first leg playing as a ‘false nine’. However, the German has an eye for goal and he sent the home support in to raptures with the opening goal, after 32 minutes. A long throw in was nodded on by Luiz and Schurrle swept home. The French league leaders were aware of Chelsea’s dead ball threat but failed to read the flick on.
Chelsea sensed blood and began the second half on the front foot. PSG seemed content to defend their narrow lead and counter attack when possible. Schurrle hit a great effort against the crossbar seven minutes in to the half and the Blues pressed forward with wave after wave of attack. Moments later Oscar hit exactly the same spot on the crossbar with a magnificent curling free kick. The home support was beginning to wonder whether this would be their night. The answer was an emphatic yes.
Mourinho threw caution to the wind and replaced Lampard with Demba Ba, perhaps the most maligned of all of his strikers. The home support was magnificent and cries of ‘champions of Europe, we’ve done it before’ rang around SW6. In the 86th minute the impossible dream became reality. Moments earlier Cavani missed a great opportunity to put the tie out of Chelsea’s reach but the PSG forward would, once again see his team lose a 2 goal deficit at Stamford Bridge. Azpilicuerta raced in to the opposition area and the ball broke to Ba to prod high in to the net from close range. Delirious celebrations, managers running the length of the pitch, pandemonium in the stands, what a night!
Mourinho remains the master tactician. He simply loves this trophy and his record of 2 victories and 8 semi final appearances in 10 campaigns is unprecedented Chelsea have now gone nine matches at the Bridge since conceding, quite astonishing. Petr Cech deserves a mention for a faultless display in goal. He deserves another trophy to cap a brilliant career before the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea may not be the best team left in this completion but the iron-clad belief that this team has will mean no one wants to draw the Blues on Friday morning .’We’ve done it before’!!!.