UEFA Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg
Wednesday 30th April 2008 @ 7.45pm
Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea win 4-3 on aggregate after extra time
The prospect of a sensational third European Cup final in four seasons ended on a miserable night down at Stamford Bridge. For the fourth occasion this season Liverpool walked away from a Chelsea fixture ruining wasteful finishing, and missed opportunities.
After the first leg, when the reds wasted a hatful of chances to put this tie beyond Chelsea culminating in John Arne Riise’s own goal the feeling was that the gods had turned.
In football, revenge is one of the key necessities of the sport’s enjoyment. Tonight, Chelsea got theirs for two European Cup semi-final defeats.
Chelsea started brightly. Didier Drogba clearly doesn’t like getting dirty, because in this muddy wet game he maintained his balance reasonably well and caused Liverpool’s back-line problems.
When Skrtel limped off with an injury to his knee in the 22nd minute Liverpool’s game plans were immediately affected. Hyypia arrived on, not knowing that he would have another 100 minutes of action ahead.
In the 33rd minute Chelsea made the break-through, a Kalou shot was saved by Reina, but Drogba slid home the first goal of the night. Drogba wondered how to celebrate for a moment, before opting to slide in front of Rafa Benitez.
The second half was a different story. All Liverpool. But our only rewards for 45 minutes of domination was our first goal in 841 minutes at the Bridge. Fernando Torres (you may have heard of him..) received a lovely pass crafted by Benayoun and fired past Cech.
The reds had got the goal that they desperately needed.
The minutes ticked away to the inevitable extra time.
Extra time commenced and Essien fired home from 22 yards. Celebrations were cut short as four Chelsea players were offside and the goal was correctly ruled out.
Seconds later and Chelsea were ahead again. Sami Hyypia clipped Michael Ballack just inside the box and it was Frank Lampard who converted the penalty. At this point Torres was replaced by Babel after tweaking a hamstring.
It got worse. Still in the first period of extra time and Drogba added another to sink Liverpool’s hearts.
The second period of extra time and Liverpool went on the front foot. Hyypia towards the end of the half became another reds striker. Substitute Ryan Babel, scoring yet again as our new ‘supersub’, smashed a shot home from 30 yards out with 3 minutes left on the clock.
Too little. Too late.
Liverpool should have come to Stamford Bridge with at least a two goal cushion but our wasted opportunities at Anfield cost us more than the wasted ones here at the Bridge. Roman Abramovich’s side get to their first final in his home country. Who’d have believed it?
It’s been another impressive campaign in Europe for Liverpool. But there will be no trip to Moscow. Liverpool fans will save over £50 million. Maybe we can all chip in and clone Torres?
Good luck to Chelsea in the final.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (Hyypia 22), Riise, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun (Pennant 78), Gerrard, Torres (Babel 99).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Finnan, Crouch, Lucas.
Booked: Alonso, Arbeloa.
Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole (Anelka 91), Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (Shevchenko 119), Kalou (Malouda 70), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Obi, Alex, Belletti.
Goals: Drogba 33, Lampard 98 pen, Drogba 105.
Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
Updated LFC Stats