Chelsea turns game around with 10 men

[VIDEO PICK] Playing with 10 men, Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to tie Barcelona and improbably move into the final of the UEFA Champions League. Brazilian Ramires' goal in stoppage time of the first half turned the game around for the Blues. After Lionel Messi twice hit the woodwork -- the first time from the penalty spot -- Fernando Torres scored on a breakaway to dash Barca's hopes.

TRIVIA. Barcelona enjoyed a 17-7 edge in shots but only 5-3 in shots on goal. Its advantage in corner kicks (10-1) and ball possession (72 percent-28 percent) was much greater.

BARCELONA REACTION.  "I told my players to attack and not to stop, because that is what we have to do. And then Chelsea's first goal came. But we are true to ourselves, we have always been this way. I will learn from this. I do not know what to feel. I look at my players and I do not know what to tell them that they did wrong because I cannot find anything wrong with what we did." -- Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

CHELSEA REACTION. "It’s an incredible achievement by this group of players. A lot of people had written us [off] but we showed again what kind of character these players have. We didn’t expect to play with 10 men, but we knew it was going to be tough and it was even more difficult than we expected. Barcelona have some fantastic players but we showed what we’re made of. The second half wasn’t much about tactics – it was about the pressure, the pride, the desire to go to the final. We were 45 minutes away from the final and that’s what the second half was about." -- Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo

NEXT UP. Chelsea will play Bayern Munich or Real Madrid at Bayern’s Allianz Arena on May 19

16 comments about "Chelsea turns game around with 10 men".
  1. Carlos Thys, April 25, 2012 at 12:59 a.m.

    Does anyone else think that the two legged tackle by Frank Lampard on Cesc Fabregas merited a red card? Scissors anyone? What do the Laws of the Game say? Two things. If it were a much lesser known player, red might have come out. Second, the Turkish ref knew he couldn't red Lampard as he's already sent off Terry. To me, that was a red card. Totally stupid and unnecessary from Lampard. Totally immature. Also -- I saw certainly two (one flagrant!) maybe three failures on the part of the Turkish match official to "award" the advantage call and let play continue. In each case to FC Barcelona's detriment. All that said, Lionel Messi needs to work on his PK's. Hitting the bar, post, or missing entirely is utterly unacceptable. The only blessing out of this is that Chelsea's Raul Merieles will not be in the final.

  2. Kent James, April 25, 2012 at 7:56 a.m.

    I thought Lampard's foul was an example of excessive force, so while it was clearly a yellow card, I didn't think it rose to the level of a red card. I thought the ref generally did a good job. For all its possession, Barcelona simply did not attack the goal enough. For about 30 minutes in the middle of the 2nd half Barcelona just seem devoid of any ideas on how to score. Certainly Chelsea deserves credit for a well-organized defensive effort under very difficult circumstances, but no team should be able to defend for so long and win. It was unfortunate that Messi hit the bar, but nobody's perfect.

  3. Chance Hall, April 25, 2012 at 8:34 a.m.

    John Terry and Frank Lampard are both known for dirty play. The knee in the back was flagrant, and deliberate. I totally agree that if they were not so well known they both would certainly get more cards (yellow & red). It would be nice to see them play without being the hatchet men for their team. It's a shame really, because they're both good enough to play without cheating.

  4. Carl Hudson, April 25, 2012 at 10:10 a.m.

    There are only two places to hit a penalty kick: Low left or low right. Kids learn that as U-8's - and if pros have forgotten that, have them watch replays of the Roberto Baggio PK.

  5. Efrahim Fernandez, April 25, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.

    Wow, First, soccer is a contact sport and second all across both leagues hard fouls and cheap shots are committed. Like it or not it is part of the game.When players like Terry get caught the punishment results.What greater punishment then the captain not being on the field to be apart of Chelsea football history and not being in the finals.Lampards foul was not excessive by any stretch tired legs reaching in for a tackle. Chelsea result was amazing and demonstrated the flaw with Barca's ticky tacky style. You never stretch the defense enough to get behind them , Chelsea played with 10 men inside there 18 ? Granted Barca are still the only team that could play 11v 21 and likely win. The Pk should have never been given in the first place since the replays clearly showed that Cesc was never touched by Drogba. Pure Justice and makes up for all the times Barca players dive to get calls..

  6. beautiful game, April 25, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

    I wouldn't question Messi's decision to hit the PK high; the keeper was beat. Chelsea played a smart tactical game and Terry got caught with his goonery which rightfully deserved a red card. Bottom line, the soccer gods were on Chelsea's side. If other teams start to bunker down against Barca, than they better get a couple of tall/agile forwards to improve an aerial game in the box.

  7. David Huff, April 25, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.

    The unfortunate result of this is that with Barca's untimely departure we lose some ability to watch beautiful flowing soccer in action, replaced instead by a boring English side. Here's hoping that Real Madrid takes care of business against Bayern.

  8. Carlos Thys, April 25, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.

    @Carl Hudson: Excellent comment. Over and over we see this. Not just Roberto Baggio blasting it over the bar in July 1994, Zico doing it, Socrates, Platini.... Some idiot will do same in the upcoming Euro at Poland-Ukraine. Keep it low and on frame, corners. Force the keeper make a save. I'd seen Lionel Messi go high for the winner (yes, a PK) against UD Levante two Sundays ago. It was high and just under the bar. Looks great on super-slo-mo camera and for the YouTube video kids, but very, very stupid.

    Go to the FC Barca site (or just use the Wikipedia FC Barca page) and see HOW FEW players Barca's management use in all the first team matches. It is astonishingly few. Remove the long injured David Villa, Eric Abidal and the seldom used (now injured) Ibrahim Affelay. Remove those three and count how many field players you have left. This, to me, makes what FC Barca has achieved just so much more incredible. No English or Italian side comes anywhere near just using 16 or 17 field players over an entire season or even three month time frame.

  9. Carlos Thys, April 25, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.

    David Huff, I have no idea why you are down on FC Bayern. Or maybe I misinterpret your comment earlier today. This version of FC Bayern under Jupp Heynckes (a former Champions League winner as the Real Madrid skipper -- the man who ushered back to Estadio Bernebeu Real's winning ways after YEARS of no Euro glory) is very attractive, very attacking, very offensive. I'm not sure what match you might have seen in Munich last Tuesday, but FC Bayern were the far better team, the far more attacking team, the far more offensive team and they truly earned three goals (at least) on the night. Whereas Jose Mourinho can never seem to bring himself to have Higuain and Benzema on the field at the same time. Take away Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid (with occasional exceptions from Ozil and di Maria is very, very dull and in-offensive, ordinary) FC Bayern will feature the offensive prowess of Kroos, Robben, Ribery, Schweinsteigger, and Gomez (with Phillip Lahm and David Alaba coming forward and crossing) -- all starting today in this away fixture. Maybe I misunderstand your short comment. I find FC Bayern far more offensive and attack-minded and attractive than FC Chelsea (and, yes, under Mourinho, in the Champions League, more attractive than Real Madrid.)

  10. Roose Crandel, April 25, 2012 at 2:08 p.m.

    @ David Huff.

    You're an idiot. This is justice. Spanish players are soft and lack any sort of grit. Cesc' flopped and everyone's poster child Messi (who would score half the goals if he played in the EPL) had his chance and missed it. The fact they couldn't grit out 1 goal in over 60 minutes of playing 11v10 is a mark of what this "tika taka" style can't do, and that's score goals with heart and verve. The real shame is that idiot's like you put more emphasis on how "pretty" something looks over giving credit to a side that played with extreme discipline and heart to beat "the best in the world". The part I love most is that everyone of the goals they conceded in this 2 game stretch was in extra time. Soft physically, soft mentally.

  11. Bryan Kempf, April 25, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.

    Barca playing "beautiful flowing football" is about as attractive as a beautiful girl that dips snuff. With the exception of Messi, they're constantly trying to influence the ref. They flop, roll around like idiots, and then gang up on the ref. It makes me sick to watch it. I try to get my friends to sit and watch a game, then they end up giving me hell for liking a game like this. So needless to say, I loved yesterday's result. Im looking forward to enjoying the final without having to watch Alves, Buisqets, Cesc, and crew. 

    And let's not forget how bad Barca's back line has defended lately... anytime that Chelsea could string together a pass or two, they were a threat to score. 

  12. Carlos Thys, April 25, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.

    Roose Crandel, just do one thing -- please. (And Mr. Huff is a good commenter, good contributor here -- your remark against him is uncalled for.) Do this one thing as Bryan Kempf should also do. This is not about saying that FC Chelsea did not do a lot of things right yesterday and showed great teamwork despite the Cahill and Terry (both self inflicted) setbacks. Guys like Boswinga came in and did a cracking good job. And most fans -- even ones like me who don't like Drogba at all -- smiled big when Didier Drogba shot on Victor Valdes from, what 45 meters away. That was cheeky and gives a fan reason to smile and chuckle. I just ask you gentlemen to add up the minutes and games in the legs of Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pique, Alves, Valdes, and Busquets since their dramatic and deserved arrival at the pinnacle of world football in year 2008. All of them have four long years of non-stop play in those legs as they play every competition from La Liga, CL, Copa del Rey, Euro SuperCup, FIFA Club World Cup, the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, and the Confederations Cup 2009. Mr. Kempf, we also cringe when Dani Alves goes into his various immaturities or when, of late, Serio Busquets has taken a penchant for doing same. The heart and soul of the team is Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, Valdes and Messi. They rarely seek to argue or converse with the ref, Xavi almost never. See the excellently done YouTube video: "Messi Never Goes Down." And show me an equally fouled striker or midfielder in the world that behaves in the overall splendid manner than Leonel Messi displays with FC Barcelona. Please, does anyone out-do Didier Drogba in this category? (see the first half of the very recent FA Cup Semi Final in Wembley Chelsea vs. Spurs and tell me -- hand on heart -- what you think of Didier Drogba and his non-stop gamesmanship.) How about John Terry yesterday when he was caught "red handed?" Terry was not just doing an innocuous off-ball love tap on Sanchez. Done "properly" that move Terry performed can lame a player for the next 5, 10, 15 or more minutes, force him out of the game.

  13. Kent James, April 25, 2012 at 3:21 p.m.

    Barca's short passing game can be beautiful, or it can be boring; it is beautiful when it is part of a free-flowing game, it is boring when they are essentially playing a game in their opponent's final third, in which case they seem to be playing with themselves (essentially soccer masterb...guess I better not go there). There is sometimes a correlation between creative, offensive-minded players and narcissistic, fragile, mentally weak whiners, but that's not true with Barca. One of the things I admire about Barca is they don't dive much (with the exception of Alves, but hey, he's Brazilian, so it's in in his blood...(just kidding, sort of)). Messi gets fouled a hundred times a game (though only 10% are called because he usually maintains possession and keeps going), and he rarely complains. Xavi or Iniesta will sometimes complain, or ask for a foul, but they are certainly no worse than anyone else. Although I agree that going high on a penalty kick is risky, given that someone like Messi takes so many, and he knows Petr Ceck has obviously scouted his tendencies, having more options than low right or left might be necessary. The bottom line is the soccer gods wanted Chelsea, not Barcelona in the final. I agree with Carlos, that Bayern is very capable of playing attractive, attacking soccer, so I'm hoping for a Chelsea-Bayern final (also influenced by my dislike of Mourinho). Barcelona is a great team, but given how often they get into situations where defenses pack it in, they should invest in a striker (or two) who is superb in the air that they can insert in games that have devolved into "pack it in and run out the clock."

  14. David Huff, April 26, 2012 at 3:33 p.m.

    @Carlos, you did misinterpret my comments, they were focused at Chelsea since that was what this SA article topic was about (being the boring English side that they are)and nothing was directed towards Bayern which is a club that I admire and will be supporting in the Final against Boring FC. As to Roose, the term "Schweinhund" comes to mind for his bestial ranting display of ignorance, perhaps he did not take his meds prior to launching his tirade. :-) Chelsea's skillful use of the Italian Catenaccio defense (was reminiscent of what InterMilan did 2 years ago which some, including Paul Gardner I believe, described as "anti-soccer" play), effective bunkering but not very entertaining, in the end though it got them the result they needed because Barca had too much difficulty and was a little unlucky in penetrating the densely packed 18 yd. line and penalty area. Thanks also to Carlos for pointing out that Barca players rarely engage in any gamesmanship and that the English style of long ball service and incessant reckless fouling is both boring and disgraceful.

  15. Carlos Thys, April 26, 2012 at 6:10 p.m.

    To Mr. Huff: I apologize for misinterpreting. I see the present version of FC Bayern as far superior to what Real Madrid does. The only thing that detracts from FC Bayern presently is the large number of chances that Mario Gomez requires to score (and his stumbling around), but, more significantly, the misplaced trust Jupp Heynckes has in Frenchman Frank Ribery. Unless Thomas Mueller is injured, I am convinced that a second half featuring Mueller instead of Ribery would have finished off Real Madrid before the 90th minute mark. I would also give the now healthy Ivica Olic, the Croatian forward, more time. I still prefer FC Barcelona (when all are healthy / fit and Iniesta, Alves, and Cesc Fabregas haven't hit huge form slumps as they have presently), but FC Bayern is a far superior squad right now to either Real Madrid or FC Chelsea. Chelsea did feature only defending -- and to do that as a CL semifinalist at one's own home ground is just abysmal. The only one in the world that should be able to smile at that is Givanni Trapatoni. I hate how the modern "can't lose" mentality turns what would otherwise be more offensive oriented players and makes them, forces them into defensive bunker play. Where is this mentality: "Who cares if the other team achieves two goals? We'll always score three or four!" The last I saw this up close and personal was the upstart Hoffenheim squad in the first half of the 2007 / 2008 season. Nearly every one of those first 17 matches of the autumn half of the Bundesliga season was a pure joy to watch. Mr. Huff, just a small point, it is "Schweinehund." An extra "e" in there. I am sorry for my misinterpreting.

  16. David Huff, April 26, 2012 at 6:37 p.m.

    @ Carlos, I stand corrected as to the proper use of "Schweinehund" being applied to Roose Crandel. :-) I'm also looking forward to creativity being provided in the Final by the Bayern side, I have little hope for any of that when it comes to the other side (how many times can they play kick-and-run??)

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