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Anfield Online
Wednesday 25th April 2007 @ 7.45 pm
at Stamford Bridge, London
UEFA Champions League
Semi Final 1st Leg



Joe Cole's first-half goal gave Chelsea a slender first-leg lead in their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Cole slid in Didier Drogba's cross after 29 minutes to give Jose Mourinho's side the upper hand.

Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina produced two brilliant saves from Frank Lampard to keep the tie in the balance.

Petr Cech denied Liverpool an away goal with a stunning second-half stop from Steven Gerrard's long-range volley.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made a surprise selection of Bolo Zenden on the left flank and opted for Javier Mascherano instead of Momo Sissoko in the middle of midfield.

Chelsea gave a start to Joe Cole - and he proved an influential figure as the home side dominated the opening half.

Reina produced a marvellous reaction save to deny Lampard after seven minutes when he ran on to Drogba's knock-down only 10 yards out.

Drogba then failed to find Joe Cole when he was unmarked in the area - and the striker should have got on the end of a Joe Cole cross under challenge from Reina.

But Chelsea's pressure looked certain to pay off, and it did as they took the lead in the 29th minute.

Ricardo Carvalho's pass out of defence found Drogba, and he turned Daniel Agger before providing a perfect cross for Joe Cole to slide in from close range.

Liverpool's attacking responses had been fitful, limited to a tame header from Gerrard as he rose to meet Dirk Kuyt's cross.

Craig Bellamy had been disappointing, and it was no surprise when he was substituted by Peter Crouch after 51 minutes.

The England striker almost had an instant impact, challenging for a throw that fell for Gerrard, whose left-foot volley produced a brilliant save from Cech diving to his left.

Liverpool had penned Chelsea back for long periods after the break but had been short on clear-cut chances.

And it was Reina who had to be alert to clutch Drogba's shot low at his near post.

The striker then headed just wide as he got on the end of Lampard's free-kick with tension rising in the closing stages.

Reina then produced a brilliant save to keep Liverpool only a goal behind, diving to his left to palm away a powerful rising drive from Lampard.

BBC Sport

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Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso (Pennant 83), Mascherano, Zenden, Kuyt, Bellamy (Crouch 52).

Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Sissoko, Paletta.

Booked: Mascherano.

Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Makelele, Joe Cole (Wright-Phillips 84), Mikel, Lampard, Shevchenko (Kalou 76), Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Boulahrouz, Geremi, Bridge, Diarra.

Goals: Joe Cole 29.

Att: 39,483

Ref: Markus Merk (Germany).

- LFC Stats/Goalscorers


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