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Thriller sends Chelsea manager Hiddink's heart racing
by Paul Kennedy, April 15th, 2009 7AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] One of the most wide-open high-profile UEFA Champions League series ever ended with Chelsea reaching the semifinals for the fifth time in the last six years but not before the Blues got a scare from Liverpool, which rallied from 3-1 down after the first leg at home to take a 2-0 lead at halftime of Tuesday's second leg. The second half produced six goals as the match ended in a 4-4 tie that gave Chelsea a 7-5 win on aggregate and a semifinal date with Barcelona, which beat Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate after their second leg ended with a more sedate 1-1 tie.

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said he tore into his players at halftime.

"We lost our tempers," the Dutchman said, "but the players themselves were not happy either with the way we had played."

Hiddink admitted his heart was pounding during the see-saw game. Chelsea went from 2-0 down to 3-2 ahead in the 76th minute to 4-3 down in the 83rd minute -- and another Liverpool goal would have put the Reds ahead.

The series was sealed on Frank Lampard's second goal of the game, which came in the 89th minute.

Four of the goals came in the last quarter of an hour of end-to-end action.

"I have been involved in some [dramatic games]," Hiddink added, "but this was one of these games where everyone has made a lot of errors and that's why it was so attractive -- it was going from one end to the other."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was proud of his players' near-miracle.

"It's true we ended up where we started," the Spaniard said, "but we showed our character and quality and I am really proud of the players and the fans can be very pleased with the team. It was no disgrace to lose like this."

In Munich, Mali international Seydou Keita's goal in the 73rd ended Bayern's slim hopes of a comeback after a 4-0 trashing last week in Spain.

April 14 in London
Chelsea 4 Liverpool 4. Goals: Drogba 51, Alex 57, Lampard 76, 89; Fabio Aurelio 19, Xabi Alonso pen. 28, Lucas 81, Kuyt 83.
Chelsea -- Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Ricardo Carvalho, A.Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Kalou (Anelka 36), Drogba (Di Santo 90+4), Malouda.
Liverpool -- Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa (Babel 85), Skrtel, Carragher, Fabio Aurelio, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano (Riera 69), Lucas, Kuyt, Benayoun, Fernando Torres (Ngog 80).
(Chelsea wins 7-5 on aggregate.)

April 14 in Munich
Bayern Munich 1 Barcelona 1. Goals: Ribery 47; Keita 73.
Bayern Munich -- Butt, Lell, Demichelis, Lucio, Lahm, Sosa (Altintop 78), van Bommel, Ottl, Ze Roberto (Borowski 78), Ribery, Toni.
Barcelona -- Valdes, Daniel Alves, Gerard, Puyol, Abidal; Xavi, Toure, Keita, Messi, Eto'o, Iniesta (Hleb 78).
(Barcelona wins 5-1 on aggregate.)

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