LONDON: Barcelona have not beaten Chelsea in the last six of their 12 meetings in the Champions League – and a stoppage-time strike from Didier Drogba extended that jinx for Blues over Catalans.
Chelsea defeated the world, European and Spanish champions 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in their semi-final first leg after a magnificently disciplined performance built around the perfect planning of interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The nuances of the away-goals rule might have worked in Barcelona’s favour two minutes into second-half stoppage time but substitute Pedro hit a post and Sergi Busquets skied the ricochet high over the bar. This was a slice of luck which the superb, back-to-his-best Petr Cech had earned.
Drogba wasted two good opportunities to grab an early goal before Barcelona took command of possession. They went close. Alexis Sanchez hit the bar and Cesc Fabregas had an effort cleared off the line shortly after missing a clear opportunity deep inside the Chelsea box.
Then, in the second minute of first-half injury time Frank Lampard robbed Leo Messi in midfield and released Ramires down the left; he crossed for Drogba to slide the ball beyond Victor Valdes.
Sanchez again came close for the Spanish giants in the second half, but he inexplicably fired wide from close range.
It was a frustrating night for Barcelona, with star man Lionel Messi again failing to find the net against the Blues. He has another chance next Tuesday.
# # # #