Chelsea 1-0 FC Barcelona



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Stamford Bridge



Chelsea have the edge at the halfway stage of their Champions League Semi-Final after a Didier Drogba goal right on Half Time helped them defeat defending Champions 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The home side spent the majority of the game defending; Barcelona had 70% possession and six times as many shots at goal.

 Alexis Sanchez hit the bar, Fabregas found chances aplenty and Pedro hit the post late on.

Chelsea made just three alterations to the successful side that thrashed Tottenham 5-1 in the FA Cup semi-final just 3 days earlier: David Luiz was ruled out through injury, Gary Cahill slotting into central defence; Branislav Ivanovic out aside his domestic suspension to return to right back and Raul Meireles replaced Kalou in midfield.

We were all surprised to see the omission of Gerard Pique from the Catalan’s line-up, Carlos Puyol moved back to his customary centre-back position alongside Mascherano who was part of the Liverpool side that drew 4-4 here a few years back.

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Barcelona have never won a Champions League semi-final in which they have trailed after the first leg. 


Barcelona started the match in the exactly the same way they begin every game: with the ball and looking hungry for English blood.

On 7 minutes Cech made his first of many saves holding onto Sanchez’s long range effort.

2 minutes later though he should have put them ahead. A great run by Messi slipped him in, he was onside – Ashley Cole not in the correct position – and although he lobbed it over Cech he was unlucky to see it hit the bar. 

On 17 minutes, Andres Iniesta was denied by a save by Cech – tipping away his pile driver from the edge of the box.

Chelsea had seen very little of the ball, perhaps touching it a handful of times. But they had their first shot on goal in the 20th minute but Mata wasted it when he fired way off target.

Cesc Fabregas – who had a good record against Chelsea when he was at Arsenal and helped them beat his boyhood side last season’s last 16 first leg – missed a sitter midway through the first half. Messi again was full of running and Fabregas’s shot didn’t quite have the power to beat Cech who made the save.

Two minutes later, Messi had his first chance but his header from Sanchez’s cross was easily held by the Czech keeper.

3 minutes before half time as Chelsea were increasingly deep and players behind the ball should have been behind: Fabregas played in again but didn’t connect his shot properly and Ashley Cole was able to get back to clear off the line.

The blues struck first blood in first half stoppage time with their first effort on target. Drogba – who had spent much of the first time either chasing shadows or lying on his backside – finished off a lighting, swift, quick counter attack firing in from Ramires’s centre.

Messi conceded possession on the half way line to Lampard whose brilliant lofted pass set Ramires free and with only a limited defence, Drogba waited before planting his shot beyond Valdes who should have kept it out. 

The second period began in the same vain with Barca dominating possession looking for a way through, Chelsea sitting back, waiting for the moment to counter. 

On 56 minutes Barca wasted another excellent position. Alexis Sanchez was played in beautifully by Fabregas but his first touch let him down and including the best efforts of Ashley Cole, he shot wide. 

With Barcelona now struggling to create chances Pedro replaced Sanchez to offer something different. Remember he scored the opener in last season's Champions League final against Manchester United. 

Messi who looked a shadow of his usual high standards, was brought down by Ramires who also picked up the games' first booking, but Xavi's shot sailed over the bar. 

Not long after, Pedro was booked but Terry headed over from a good position. 

With six minutes left in the match, after a couple of subs which saw the departures of Fabregas and Mata, substitiute Kalou could only fire over the bar from a long ball by Lampard. 

Xavi was replaced late on just shortly after Drogba has been cautioned for a tackle on Messi. 

From the resulting free kick, Captain Puyol escaped Drogba's marking and his flicked header was superbly tipped round the post by Cech much to Puyol's dismay. 

And it felt worse in Stoppage Time: A lovely interchange between Busquets and Messi found the Argentinian, but Terry foiled him with a superb tackle. However, the ball broke loose for Pedro on the edge of the box but his fiercesome shot cannoned off the post, and Barca were unfortunate that the rebound fell to Busquets as he smashed it into the crowd. 


Wednesday 18th April

UEFA Champions League

Stamford Bridge

 

Chelsea 1-0 FC Barcelona                   KO 7:45pm              (HT 1-0)

Drogba 45+2

 

Chelsea:  01. Cech- 8.5/10, 02. Ivanovic- 7/10, 24. Cahill- 9.5/10, 26. Terry (C)9/10, 03. Cole- 9/10, 12. Mikel- 7/10 , 08. Lampard- 8.5/10, 07. Ramires- 8.5/10 (Bosingwa 88- 2/10), 10. Mata- 7/10 (KIalou 74- 3.5/10), 16. Meireles- 7/10, 11. Drogba- 8/10

Subs not used:  22. Turnbull, 05. Essien, 09. Torres, 15. Malouda, 23. Sturridge

Booked:      Ramires (69), Drogba (86) 

 

Barcelona:  01. Valdes- 4.5/10, 02. Alves- 5.5/10, 05. Puyol (C)- 6/10, 14. Mascherano- 6.5/10, 21. Adriano- 5/10, 16. Busquets- 4.5/10, 06. Xavi- 7/10 (Cuenca 86- 1/10), 08. Iniesta7.5/10, 10. Messi- 6.5/10, 04. Fabregas- 7/10 (Thiago 78- 3/10), 09. Sanchez- 5.5/10 (Pedrito 66- 5/10).

Subs not used:  13. Pinto, 03. Pique, 15. Keita, 32. Batra 

Booked:     Pedro (70), Busquets (75),


My Man of the Match:     Gary Cahill (Chelsea) Rating: 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:     Victor Valdes (Barcelona)- Rating 4.5/10 



Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)- 8/10
Attendance: 38,039


Match Facts

Possession: Chelsea- 30%              Barcelona- 70%

Shots: Chelsea- 4              Barcelona- 24

Shots on target: Chelsea- 2              Barcelona- 15

Shots off target: Chelsea- 2              Barcelona- 9

Corners: Chelsea- 1              Barcelona- 8

Fouls: Chelsea- 10              Barcelona- 9

Offside: Chelsea- 3              Barcelona- 5

Assists: Chelsea- Ramires              Barcelona- None

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