Advantage Chelsea After Frustrating Night

April 19, 2012

Barcelona will have to overcome a one-goal deficit to proceed to the Champions League Final, after losing the first leg 1-0 to Chelsea. Barça completely dominated the first half, but fluffed a number of openings and were hit by a sucker punch from Didier Drogba just before the break. The second half was more subdued, but Barcelona managed to create a couple of chances, most notably in the very last minute when Busquets failed to put away a straightforward rebound from seven yards.

Chelsea ceded possession and got men behind the ball. Most of the match was played out in their territory, as they waited for counter attacks, set pieces and long-balls up to Drogba to put Barça under pressure.

Still, Barcelona were dangerous, and almost scored from their first chance. Iniesta lofted a pinpoint pass through for Alexis in an inside-left position. The Chilean forward then lobbed it over Cesc, but, agonisingly, the ball bounced back off the crossbar.

Minutes later Cesc should have made it 1-0 to Barcelona. Iniesta fizzed a low shot towards Cech’s bottom-left corner, and when the ball rebounded to Fábregas the midfielder miscued his shot from six yards with the goal gaping.

Despite efforts by the home team to disrupt the flow the match the chances continued to flow for Barcelona. Cesc turned inside Cahill on the left side of the area, but his shot was beaten away by Cech.

Cesc had another opportunity to open the scoring just before half-time, when Messi bustled forward and slipped a smart ball behind the defence for him. This time Cesc chipped it over the ‘keeper, but Ashley Cole intervened on the line at the last second.

Chelsea had posed some threat from long throws, but didn’t get a clear sight of Barça’s goal until the stroke of halftime when Lampard spotted Ramires breaking down the left. The Brazilian had plenty of space in front of him and worked his way to the edge of the area before squaring for Drogba who swept it home to give Chelsea an unlikely lead.

In the second half Barcelona found their play increasingly stifled, and started to lose momentum. Chelsea were even less enterprising than in the first half and spent the remainder camped in front of their box.

Although chances were more limited, Barça did get a few glimpses of goal. Adriano drove in from the left and curled a long-range shot that Cech had to push away. A few minutes after, Alexis was released by a delicate Cesc pass, but sent his shot wide under pressure from Ashley Cole.

From there Barcelona toiled against the resilient Chelsea defence, and space was hard to find. The match seemed to be limping to the final whistle when Messi and Sergio combined, and the ball fell to Pedro. His shot rebounded off the post and into Sergio’s path, but the midfielder was off balance and couldn’t make the right connection.

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