Chelsea Beats Odds, Barcelona to Reach Champions League Final
Trailing 2-1 overall and playing with 10 men, Chelsea found a way to oust Barcelona and reach the Champions League soccer final.
Chelsea rallied for a 2-2 tie last night at the Camp Nou stadium in Spain to win the two-game semifinal 3-2. Ramires and Fernando Torres scored the goals as the Blues overcame the loss of captain John Terry to a 37th-minute red card for kneeing Alexis Sanchez from behind.
“It was backs to the wall,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told Sky Sports. “People want to see beautiful football, but with 10 men for 50-odd minutes, to perform like that was unbelievable.”
Chelsea will meet Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in the final of Europe’s elite club competition on May 19. They meet tonight in Madrid, with Bayern leading 2-1 from the first game in the series. Chelsea lost on a penalty shootout to Manchester United in 2008, the last time it reached the final.
Defending champion Barcelona, which was seeking its fourth title in seven seasons, got goals from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. The team’s top scorer, Lionel Messi, missed a penalty kick.
Terry’s first-half sending off put Chelsea under pressure for the rest of the game. The defender said the referee was right to eject him and apologized to his teammates.
“I’ve let the lads down,” Terry told Sky Sports. “They’ve performed brilliantly, so hopefully this doesn’t take it away from the players.”
Out of the Final
The dismissal will keep Terry out of the final. Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles will also sit out the title game after receiving yellow cards, while Gary Cahill may also be sidelined after leaving in the 12th minute last night with a leg injury.
As it did in losing 1-0 in the opening game last week, Barcelona dominated statistically. While it had 75 percent of possession, it could only put five of its 12 shots on target. Chelsea had seven shots, three on goal.
“That’s football,” Torres said on UEFA’s website. “The best team or the favorites don’t always win.”
Busquets scored for Barcelona two minutes before Terry was ejected. Iniesta made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute and Ramires ran onto a Lampard pass and chipped a shot over goalkeeper Victor Valdes in injury time to make it 2-1 at halftime.
Barcelona had an early chance in the second half after Didier Drogba tripped Cesc Fabregas to concede a penalty kick, which Messi struck against the crossbar.
Barcelona kept pressuring as Chelsea kept all 10 men behind the ball at times. When Sanchez put the ball in the net, the score was disallowed for offside against Alves.
Messi then struck a post with a shot before Torres made certain of the win in injury time. With Barcelona pressing everyone forward in search of the goal that would send it through, Torres collected a long clearance in midfield and went in alone on goal before rounding Valdes and putting the ball into the open net.
“It’s an incredible achievement by this group of players,” Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo told sky Sports. “We didn’t expect to play with 10 men and we knew it was going to be tough. It was even more difficult than we expected.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.