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Chelsea secured a famous victory on a cold, wet and windy night in London, as Barcelona hit everything but the back of the net in a frustrating evening for the reigning champions. Didier Drogba’s goal during half-time was enough for a slender 1-0 win to take Spain, but they rode their luck as both Alexis Sanchez and Pedro hit the woodwork, and a hatful more chances were missed during the 90 minutes.
There has never been a dull encounter between Barcelona and Chelsea, and this one set a similar tone early on, as Barcelona dominated possession, but Drogba caused considerable problems for the current winners. Barcelona threatened to cut Chelsea open, inside the first ten minutes, when Andres Iniesta found Alexis Sanchez onside, but the Chilean’s loop over Petr Cech came back off the crossbar.
The rhythm of the game was disrupted by a few small injuries, but Barcelona was still in control and Cesc Fabregas should have scored, when he sliced his shot off Sanchez just six yards from goal. As the game progressed past its half hour mark, Carles Puyol and Didier Drogba in particular were in war, Drogba being bundled to the ground consistently, whilst the 34-year-old Spaniard seemed to be struggling with a wrist injury.
Chelsea was frustrating the superstars, but Messi was pulling the strings when he could find space behind the Chelsea midfield. Minutes before half-time he released the ex-Arsenal midfielder Fabregas, whose dink over Cech was cleared off the line by a covering Ashley Cole. Drogba was frustrating Barcelona with a mixture of brilliant hold up play, and poor attempts at hitting the deck regularly to disrupt play.
But right on half-time, Drogba showed his class, as Chelsea broke up field from a Frank Lampard pass, Brazilian Ramires ran onto it and found Drogba, who squeezed his shot past Victor Valdes to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead at the break.
The second half continued very much as the first had ended. Barcelona was well on top, with Chelsea relying on the bullishness of Drogba up front for some respite. It was all very easy on the eye from the Spanish champions, but there was little to no end product, until a lovely link-up between Sanchez and Fabregas ended up with Sanchez having a shooting opportunity less than six-yards out, but somehow the winger slid the ball wide off the post.
Messi was coming more into the game as time went on, and Pep Guardiola introduced Pedro and Thiago to try and secure a crucial away goal in the final twenty minutes. The slippery surface was catching several of the away side’s players out, as the rain poured down at Stamford Bridge, but Barcelona still couldn’t find a goal despite being camped in Chelsea’s half.
With just five minutes remaining, pretty much all ten of Barcelona’s outfield players were in the opposition half, and Isaac Cuenca replaced Xavi, before Petr Cech made a big save from Carles Puyol with minutes remaining. Chelsea tightened things up even further by replacing their winger with a right-back in the shape of Jose Bosingwa, as the away fans became increasingly restless by their team’s inability to break down the Chelsea wall.
There was still one more piece of drama in the last action of the match. Pedro’s curling effort hit the post and rebounded to an unmarked Sergio Busquets, who put his left-footed effort well over the bar, with an almost open goal gaping in front of him.
That was the last kick of the game, as Roberto Di Matteo’s side held on for a hard-earned victory to take to the Nou Camp.
Image Courtesy of I am a True Blue – Chelsea Football Club