Heartbreak for Barcelona

April 25, 2012

Barcelona are out of the UEFA Champions League after drawing 2-2 with 10-man Chelsea at the Camp Nou. In an eventful match Barça were unable to capitalise on their dominance– they went 2-0 up through goals by Busquets and Iniesta, but were pegged back on the stroke of half time by a goal from Ramires. In the second half Barcelona attacked relentlessly, but couldn’t score the crucial third, and collapsed at the end to a breakaway Torres goal.

The first half was as dramatic as any at the Camp Nou this season. It started with Barcelona exerting near constant pressure on the Chelsea defence. And the first chance arrived within three minutes, when quick interplay between Messi and Sánchez saw Messi through against Cech, but the Argentine slammed his right-footed effort into the side-netting.

Soon after, Valdés had to clear a long-ball by Petr Cech, but in doing so crashed into Piqué, knocking him out cold. The centre-half would go on to play ten more minutes before getting withdrawn.

At the other end Messi drew a smart close range stop from Cech and Cesc volleyed wide after a clever ball over the top by Cuenca. But the pressure was starting to tell now, and just after the thirty-minute mark Barcelona took the lead. Alves, on for Piqué, released Cuenca on the right, who crossed low for Busquets to arrive late and slot home.

The remainder of the half was full of incident – first John Terry inexplicably kicked Alexis off the ball, earning a red card. Then with Chelsea caught high up the pitch and trying to recover, Alexis laid the ball off for Messi, who threaded it through down the left for Iniesta, who in turn made no mistake with an elegant side-footed finish into the bottom right corner.

But then, as half time beckoned, Chelsea scored a goal from nowhere. Lampard spotted Ramires’ run, and the Brazilian produced a deft chip which looped over Valdés and down into the net. The goal put Chelsea back in the lead in the tie on away goals.

In the second half Chelsea defended in a 6-3 formation and Barcelona toiled to find gaps, but few were forthcoming.

On one of the rare occasions that Barcelona managed to draw Chelsea players out of position, Cesc flicked the ball away from Drogba on the right side of the area, earning a penalty from the forward’s lunge. Messi stepped up but drove his spot-kick onto the cross bar and out.

After the penalty Barcelona appeared to be discouraged, and found it increasingly difficult to carve open the massed Chelsea ranks – Messi cut in from the right and hit the bottom of the post from outside the area, and Cuenca forced a stop from Cech. Any hopes of qualifying were wiped out by Torres’ goal when Barça had committed the whole team forward. A long kick downfield left the Spanish forward one-on-one with Valdes, and he rounded the ‘keeper before passing it in.

1-0 Busquets (min 34)
2-0 Iniesta (min 43)
2-1 Ramires (min 45)
2-2 Fernando (min 92)

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