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Drogba gives Liverpool the slip
by Paul Kennedy, May 1st, 2008 6:45AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Didier Drogba, derided by Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez before the game for diving, got the better of the Reds, scoring two goals and leading Chelsea to a 3-2 victory Wednesday that moved the Blues into the final of the UEFA Champions League against Manchester United on May 21 in Moscow.

Benitez was half right in his assessment of Drogba, saying the Ivorian was "very, very strong but he falls down. He slips a lot."

Drogba's game was all power, beating Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina with a clinical finish in the 33rd minute and putting the Blues two goals ahead in overtime on a first-time shot off a low cross from Frenchman Nicolas Anelka.

After the first goal, Drogba raced toward the Liverpool bench and slid to his knees in front of Benitez.

"Benitez is a fantastic coach, one of the best in the world, and I was a little disappointed but perhaps he thought his team wasn't strong enough," Drogba said of Benitez's remarks. "It [the publicity over Benitez's comments] does nothing for my image, and I am doing everything to promote English football, and it is not good and not fair but it is finished now."

Drogba has scored 18 goals in the four years in the Champions League for Chelsea, which had lost to Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 semifinals.

"I am really pleased for the club," said Drogba. "We have been trying to make the final for several years. What we have achieved today is a great thing for the club and the fans."

The irony, of course, is that Drogba, unhappy when Manager Jose Mourinho left Chelsea earlier in the season, could be leaving Stamford Bridge.

"There are a lot of rumors linking me with a number of clubs," Drogba told the French newspaper L'Equipe. "But I have two years remaining on my contract. At the moment, I am focused on Chelsea and our run-in until the end of the season. The rumors with me moving to Inter [Milan] with Jose Mourinho? I have heard these reports. They talk about me at Real Madrid too, it is flattering but not topical."

April 30 in London

Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2 (OT). Goals: Drogba 33, 105, Lampard pen. 98; Fernando Torres 64, Babel 117.
Chelsea -- Cech, Essien, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, A.Cole, Makelele, Ballack, Lampard (Shevchenko 119), J.Cole (Anelka 91), Drogba, Kalou (Malouda 70).
Liverpool -- Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (Hyypia, 22), Riise, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard, Kuyt,i Benayoun (Pennant 78), Fernando Torres (Babel 98).
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
Att.: 38,900.


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