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Match Report: Chelsea 2 – Benfica 1 (Agg 3-1)

And now for Barcelona! ….as  a penalty by Frank Lampard and an injury time strike by Raul Meireles secured us a Champions League semi-final place.

Roberto Di Matteo made two changes from the first leg in Lisbon bringing back Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard in place of Paulo Ferreira and Raul Meireles, with Michael Essien and Didier Drogba on the bench.

We found ourselves on the back foot early in the game as Benfica looked to level the tie with Nicolas Gaitan threatening down the left wing, but the Blues defence stood firm.

We were given a golden opportunity to take the lead as Ashley Cole broke into the box and was then barged down by Javi Garcia leaving the referee with no option but to point to the spot. Damir Skomina showed a yellow card to Benfica skipper Maxi Pereira, which would cost them dearly later on.

This allowed Frank Lampard in his 550th game for Chelsea, to step up and drive the ball under the outstretched arms of Artur to give us a comfortable two-goal lead on aggregate.

Midway through the first half David Luiz was caught out allowing Gaitan to race forward, but his cross was blocked by John Terry.

Our skipper came to the rescue again a minute later after a good move from a free kick found Axel Witsel at the back post and he knocked it down for Oscar Cardozo, who was free on the penalty spot, but his drive towards goal was cleared by Terry on the line.

Five minutes before the break, things went from bad to worse for the Portuguese as Pereira was shown his second yellow card of the evening for a lunge on John Obi Mikel, leaving his side left to play out the rest of the match with 10 men. 

Benfica came out with purpose for the second half and a slick passing move saw the ball arrive at the feet of Cardozo, but his strike was tipped round the post by Cech.

We should have wrapped up the game breaking down the left-hand side of the penalty area, Salomon Kalou leaving Ramires with a tap-in from a yard out but he somehow failed to convert.

We continued to seek out the goal that would kill the game off with both Juan Mata and Torres having strikes within seconds of each other, but neither could find a way past Artur.

Mata might have scored when Kalou picked out his bursting run into the box, but his shot could only go across the face of Artur’s goal and out for a goal kick.

After so many missed chances Stamford Bridge feared the worst when a corner from the left wing in the 85th minute found Javi Garcia free in front of goal and he headed the ball into the back of the net to give Benfica a glimmer of hope.

With 4 minutes extra time added it resulted in a nervy ending but with Benfica moving everyone forward we broke with a counter-attack and substitute Raul Meireles unleashed an unstoppable strike to send us into the semi-final stage of the Champions League.

After the match Roberto Di Matteo summed up by saying:-

“The crowd was again amazing, they love these European nights and they supported the team fantastically well.

It is great to see this excitement and how they connect with the team.

It will be exciting to play two games against one of the best teams in the world and we will find our strategy that will suit our players and our team to face Barcelona.

They have some great individual players that are a big threat but we also have to play our game and play to our strengths. Chelsea have faced them a lot of times over the years and a lot of our players have history against Barcelona.

Certainly they feel a bit hard done by from last time three years ago when they played against them.

I am looking forward to these two games against Barcelona and we are pleased to be in the semi-final.”

Gill Reeves – CSG disabled rep

Stats from the BBC website:

Chelsea

• 01 Cech
• 02 Ivanovic – Booked
• 03 Cole
• 04 David Luiz
• 26 Terry (Cahill – 59′ )
• 07 Ramires – Booked
• 08 Lampard
• 12 Mikel – Booked
• 09 Torres (Drogba – 88′ )
• 10 Mata (Meireles – 79′ )
• 21 Kalou

Substitutes

• 22 Turnbull
• 19 Ferreira
• 24 Cahill
• 05 Essien
• 16 Meireles
• 11 Drogba
• 23 Sturridge

Benfica

• 01 Artur
• 03 Emerson
• 14 Pereira – Dismissed after an earlier booking
• 38 Capdevila
• 06 Javi Garcia
• 08 Bruno Cesar – Booked (Machado – 72′ )
• 10 Aimar – Booked
• 20 Gaitan (Djalo – 61′ )
• 21 Matic
• 28 Witsel
• 07 Cardozo – Booked (Oliveira – 57′ )

Substitutes

• 47 Eduardo
• 16 Oliveira
• 34 Almeida
• 09 Nolito
• 12 Djalo
• 19 Machado
• 30 Saviola

Ref: Skomina

Att: 37,264

 

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