The ten men didn’t go to mow, they went to provide one of the greatest Chelsea performances of all time.
I’ve been watching this great club for many many years and have seen many great games in different competitions over five decades but this game caps them all. After the performance at the Bridge, in the first leg, last week I think many of us thought that the away leg would be difficult to say the least.
However shortly before half time, being down to ten men, 2-0 down and with only Branner as a recognised centre half, even the most fervent Blue would of given us much chance of proceeding to the final. Rami’s beautifully taken goal changed the dynamics for the second half however and gave our resillient defence something to hold on to. For forty four minutes the match resembled Rorkes Drift with attack after attack being repulsed by the outnumbered defenders.
Finally with seconds left on the clock Nando eased past Valdes to repay £50m and put Chelsea through to the Final.
Words really cannot describe the huge amount of pride and admiration I have for the sheer stubborn refusal of this team under Robbie. The will to win or refusal to lose is quite incredible and its a shame that this wasn’t evident at the beginning of the season.
There are some negatives to address however. JT what were you thinking? There can be no excuses for what happened. JT is a hero to us all but last night he made a mistake which could cost him the chance of lifting the Champions League trophy.
Losing JT, Branner, Rami and Mereiles for the Final through suspension is bad enough but with Luiz and Cahill carrying injuries it could mean resurrecting the famous Ferreira and Essien partnership from a few of years ago.
Robbie stated after the game “It’s an incredible achievement by this group of players. The belief was always there. When it is the right time we will think about the final.” Lamps stated after the match “It’s one of the finest moments I’ve felt in a Chelsea shirt,” he said. “It was backs to the wall. I know we dug in and people want to see beautiful football, but with 10 men for 50-odd minutes or whatever it was, to perform like that was unbelievable. “That clock wasn’t half slow in the second half. You know they’re liable to score at any moment because of the players they’ve got in their team but there’s a determination about us and you get what you deserve. “We were all in it together and we dug in.” Ash was equally enthusiastic about Chelsea’s rearguard action in the Nou Camp. “When you lose quality centre-halves like that against a great team, it’s going to be hard.” “But we all believed. Not many people did but we did as a group of players, and that’s what happened. “It’s hard, but we defended well as a team, got a bit lucky, and Petr [Cech] made some good saves. “Three to four months ago no-one thought we had a chance. We lost a few games in the Premier League but we always believed and knew we were good enough to be here. “You can’t beat that desire and fight that you saw out there today.” So all in all this was our finest hour in Europe. In fact, personally I think this was the finest performance by an English team in Europe.
To me it beats United’s come back in the same stadium to beat Bayern 2-1. It certainly beats the Scousers come back to beat AC Milan in the final. This was a night to be proud of Chelsea, to be proud of the players and to wear the shirt. Up the Chels.