Chelsea have drawn 2-2 with Barcelona in their Champions League semifinal second leg, enough to make the final. The London club played most of the game with 10 men, and had less than one fifth of possession.
Chelsea secured the most improbable 2-2 draw at a sold-out Nou Camp in Barcelona on Tuesday, proceeding to the Champions League final in Munich with an aggregate score of 3-2. The London club lost captain John Terry shortly before the break and spent almost all the second half camped in their own third of the pitch. But the Catalans simply couldn't find the net.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, one of the busiest men on the pitch, perhaps put it best when asked whether the win was unjust after Barcelona had dominated both legs and especially Tuesday's second half.
"To be fair, we tried to survive, and we survived very well," he said.
Chelsea will now face either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich - who play in Madrid on Wednesday - in the final at Bayern’s Allianz Arena on May 19. And Roberto di Matteo's men are liable to see a little more of the ball than the meager 17 percent of possession they enjoyed in Barcelona.
Setting the tone
The best early chance of the evening fell, perhaps unsurprisingly, to Lionel Messi, who broke free down the inside-right channel and blasted into the side-netting of Petr Cech's goal.
Barcelona nearly found the net in style on 19 minutes, after a beautiful one-two between Messi and Cesc Fabregas through the middle of the defense. Cech, however, was equal to Messi's the shot.
To give an idea of the level of home dominance, Chelsea's first meaningful chance was created by goalkeeper Petr Cech, feeding Drogba directly in the very definition of route-one football. From a tight angle, he only found the side-netting.
Joh Obi Mikel picked up the first, but by no means the last, yellow card of the game after half an hour, chopping down Barca's Alexis Sanchez who had turned away from the tackle. The winger, however, made sure everyone knew he had been hit.
When the wheels nearly fell off
Sergio Busquets finally broke the deadlock on 34 minutes. Space opened up for Isaac Cuenca on the left flank, who squared the ball to an unmarked Busquets in front of the Chelsea goal; he finished with ease.
Seconds after the restart, Chelsea captain John Terry was given a straight card and appeared furious. Replays showed he had needlessly struck out with his knee at the back of Sanchez's thigh. Again, the Chilean hit the deck with thespian aplomb, only to regain his feet with apparent ease. It was Terry's first Champions League red card in 86 career appearances.
Shortly before the half-time break Barcelona put another past the shell-shocked Blues, as Andres Iniesta picked up a Messi pass in the box and slotted it into the bottom corner with his right foot.
Chelsea looked set to head in a goal and a man down at the break, needing a minor miracle. The tie appeared over
But Ramires delivered that lifeline even before the half time whistle. Frank Lampard slotted a ball through the heart of the Barca back four, Ramires calmly looped a right-footed first-time lob over the advancing Valdez. The goal might come as some consolation for the Brazilian, who had been booked moments earlier and therefore knew he would miss the final. Eight of Chelsea's starters picked up a card in the game.
31-year-old John Terry had never been sent off in the Champions League before, he will miss the final
The half time score: 2-1 to Barcelona, and away goal advantage to the understaffed Londoners.
Chelsea kittens cling to curtains
Straight after the restart, Iniesta came within inches of restoring Barca's advantage, his close-range shot was deflected away for a corner. After a prolonged period of possession from the set piece, the pressure told. Didier Drogba, on defensive duty in his own box, brought down Cesc Fabregas and the referee pointed to the spot.
Messi stepped up for the penalty but smashed it against the crossbar with his left foot - the Londoners’ back-to-the-wall effort could continue.
Sanchez was the next to have a go at goal with a back post header from a Dani Alves cross, he just missed the target.
Chelsea were effectively playing with a six-man back line and three defensive midfielders just ahead by this stage, even Drogba was spending most of his time at left back. Barcelona's attackers were almost confronted with a training ground scenario: break down the wall.
A crack in the wall
Barcelona did score, albeit illegally, on 81 minutes; Xavi finished a cross from Dani Alves, but the full back had strayed into an offside position. Messi jinked past Raul Meireles and blasted a left footed shot against the post seconds later.
The clock kept on ticking, and Barcelona kept piling on the pressure, but to no avail. The team of technicians appeared unwilling to spread the ball wide and stretch the stacked Chelsea defense, despite such attacks yielding promising results.
Finally, the goal came - for Chelsea. After hoofing the ball clear, substitute striker Fernando Torres emerged all alone in Barca's half; he bounded forward, rounded Valdes and scored.
The 2-2 score-line could hardly be called representative. Barcelona had 23 shots to Chelsea's seven, with the Champions League holders enjoying a staggering 83 percent of possession.
Two teams liable to welcome the upset are Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, one of whom will face Chelsea in the final. They will meet at the Bernabeu in Madrid on Wednesday, with Bayern looking to defend a 2-1 advantage.
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Richard Connor