Tuesday 14th April 2009, 7.45pm @ Stamford Bridge
UEFA Champions League
Quarter Final 2nd Leg
Liverpool almost clinched a sensational place in the semi-finals in an 8 goal thriller at Stamford Bridge. With a devastating 3-1 deficit to make up Liverpool went straight for the jugular at the Bridge and a Fabio Aurelio free kick and a Xabi Alonso penalty set the cat amongst the pigeons as Liverpool took a first half 2-0 lead.
Towards the end of the first half Liverpool should have made it 3 as Chelsea were in danger of going under without a trace. With Steven Gerrard unfit to play Liverpool’s task was even greater.
In the second half, Chelsea appeared to have learned none of the lessons for the first half and the reds continued to attack but were foiled time and time again by the Blues.
And then the game changed.
A deep cross from out wide and Drogba got the faintest of touched, wrong footing Reina who appeared to push the ball over the line. Minutes later Chelsea had their own free kick to celebrate when Alex powered the goal past Reina.
As the reds continued their gung-ho game plan Lampard was given space to get Chelsea’s third on the night leaving the reds with a mountain to climb.
Torres, who had been ineffectual in the game was replaced, and Liverpool then produced their only 2 minutes of madness when a Lucas strike took a deflection and fired in to equalise, before a Dirk Kuyt header from Riera’s cross put Liverpool 4-3 up. With 5 minutes left on the clock, one more goal for the reds and another extra-ordinary comeback would have been complete.
But as the reds pushed everyone forward, Chelsea found the space on a break-away and Lampard’s shot in off the post signalled the end of this season’s Champions League campaign for Liverpool.
Chelsea fans had booed their team off at half time, but the free plastic flags handed out by the Chelsea oligarch were now being waved.
On the pitch, over this gruelling 180 minutes of football Chelsea may have got the better of the reds, but off the pitch there was only ever one winner.
Chelsea advance to the semi-finals to face Barcelona. Liverpool face Arsenal next Tuesday as the title race continues.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa (Babel 85), Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Lucas, Mascherano (Riera 69), Alonso, Kuyt, Torres (Ngog 80), Benayoun.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Agger.
Booked: Benayoun, Arbeloa.
Goals: Aurelio 19, Alonso 28 pen, Lucas 81, Kuyt 82.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Anelka 36), Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba (Di Santo 90).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Mikel, Deco, Belletti, Mancienne.
Booked: Ivanovic, Carvalho, Ashley Cole.
Goals: Drogba 52, Alex 57, Lampard 76, 89.
Ref: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain).