Roberto Di Matteo’s 10-man Chelsea have stunned FC Barcelona claimed a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp to progress to the Uefa Champions League final on Tuesday.
FC Barcelona 2 (Busquets 35’, Iniesta 43’) drew with Chelsea 2 (Ramires 45’, Torres 90’)
It was all Barcelona early on, but they had to wait until the 35th minute, following injuries to Gary Cahill and Gerard Pique, before they went ahead through Sergio Busquets who swept home Isaac Cuenca’s low ball. Chelsea then copped what appeared a terminal blow when skipper John Terry raised a knee to Alexis Sanchez’s back and duly received a 37th-minute red card.
Barcelona looked set to roll Chelsea well and truly when Andres Iniesta received a pass inside the box from Lionel Messi and coolly slotted past Petr Cech for 2-0. The tide look to be one-way, but 10-man Chelsea hit back before the break when Frank Lampard swivelled and played in Ramires who raced through the Barca defence before a fine lofted finish over Victor Valdes put them back in the lead in the tie.
The holders once again appeared set to re-gain control when Didier Drogba hauled down Cesc Fabregas inside the box early in the second-half but Messi, having an off-night, cannoned his spotkick into the crossbar and Chelsea cleared the danger. From then on, Barca struggled, with a hint of panic. Eventually the Blues confirmed their progress when Fernando Torres raced onto a long ball as Barca pressed forward, and he raced in on goal, coolly rounding Valdes for 2-2.
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola: “The key moment was when Ramires scored just before the break; that hurt us psychologically. We did everything to win, not just tonight but over the two legs. We had chances to score more goals here, and a penalty too. But it wasn’t enough.”
Guardiola added: “We must thank Lionel Messi for what he has given this club. My admiration for him knows no limits. He is an example for everyone who wants to improve themselves. I have no doubt – given the competitor he is – that he will be suffering some very dark hours after this . But this is what’s beautiful about this game.”
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo: “A lot of people had written us off but the players showed their character. We didn’t expect to play with 10 men so it was even more difficult than expected. Barcelona are a great team with fantastic players but we showed what we are made of. We’ve had a difficult season and we seem to always get something special out when we need to. That’s part of the DNA of these players.”
Di Matteo added: “The Ramires goal was crucial, it gave us that lifeline and that belief that we could get through in the second half. We said before the game we needed a goal and we managed to get one. It gave the advantage back to us. The second half wasn’t so much about tactics as passion, pride and desire to get to the final.”
Frank Lampard: “I know people want to see beautiful football, but with 10 men for 50 odd minutes and to be two goals down and perform like that - what a sprit we showed - unbelievable stuff!”
Petr Cech: “We scored the away goal and I think that was the key, twice we scored goals. We fought for 90 minutes in the first game, we were down to 10 men and we did what we could and I think it was fantastic what we did and we got the reward for it because everybody 150 per cent for the team and to be fair we tried to survive and we survived pretty well.”
John Terry: “I feel like I’ve let my team-mates down and I’ve apologised to them and I want to apologise to the Chelsea fans as well. No, I don’t have any complaints about the red card. At the time I was bewildered because I was trying to protect myself a little bit but looking at it on the replay it does look like a red card.
Cesc Fabregas: “Football is unjust sometimes… I am 24 years old, and I have never seen Camp Nou react like this after a defeat. This is a great team, we will be back next year. Chelsea’s playing style damaged us, we were far superior and we created several chances.”