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The BBC's Ian Brown
Reports from Stamford Bridge on an epic victory
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Inspired Chelsea brush Barcelona aside

Zola sparked the first-half rout with a magnificent goal
Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona

Chelsea produced one of their finest ever European performances to take a shock lead over Spanish giants Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final.

The Blues gave themselves a great chance of reaching the last four thanks to a brilliant first-leg display.

Match facts
30: Zola sets Chelsea on the way
34: Flo doubles the Blues' advantage
38: Flo's second sends the Bridge into raptures
64: Luis Figo's goal gives Barcelona renewed hope
The damage was done in eight glorious first-half minutes as the home side went 3-0 up through their two frontmen.

Gianfranco Zola led the way with a superb free-kick and strike partner Tore Andre Flo added two swift goals to leave the Catalans reeling.

Luis Figo then brought Barcelona back into the tie in the second half with a crucial away goal.

But the west London side, whose defence was in formidable form throughout, are still well placed to wrap up a famous upset in the return leg in Spain on April 18.

Chelsea were never over-awed by Barcelona's mega-stars
Italian striker Zola inspired the Blues' astonishing first-half performance against a team that had won their last nine games.

He scored the first goal after 30 minutes with a fantastic swerving shot around the Barca wall and past helpless keeper Ruud Hesp, after Luis Figo had handled the ball just outside the area.

And then, with the visitors rocking, Zola raced down the right wing and crossed into the area, where Flo side-footed home at the near post.

Barca were suddenly shell-shocked and powerless in the face of the buoyant Blues.

And four minutes after his first Flo claimed his second goal, lobbing Hesp after Didier Deschamps' through-ball had sent him clear.

Luis Figo's goal gives Barcelona hope for the return
The fantastic three-goal lead surpassed Chelsea's expectations - particuarly after an impressive start from Barcelona.

Ed de Goey had to be on top form to keep Chelsea on level terms in the early stages.

The Dutch keeper did well to parry a fierce strike from World Player of the Year Rivaldo from a 14th minute free-kick.

And he followed that with a fine one-handed save, turning away Gabri's goal-bound shot at the near post.

Barcelona, rated by many experts as the best team in Europe, began well - but Chelsea gradually found their feet and their first genuine chance came when Zola made a superb break and then slipped the ball to Jody Morris, who totally fluffed his shot.

Marcel Desailly was a dominant presence at the back
And they could so easily have gone ahead from a 24th minute corner when Zola's neat cross found Marcel Desailly - but the French defender's powerful header was kept out by Hesp.

Zola was now the most influential player on the pitch and he sparked a flurry of three goals in a manic eight-minute spell.

Chelsea went in at half-time in complete control, their fans pinching themsleves after the first 45 minutes.

And the Blues thought they could have extended the lead at the start of the second half as Zola crumpled in the box under Frank de Boer's challenge - but the referee waved away the penalty claims and instead booked the Italian for diving.

Barcelona desperately tried to impose themselves on the upbeat west London outfit in the second half.

And they claimed a vital away goal after 64 minutes from a sumptuous attacking move that left Chelsea's defence chasing shadows.

Rivaldo's intelligent pass sent Phillip Cocu clear on the left and his low, first-time cross was flicked into the net by Luis Figo's excellent finish.

Chelsea found chances hard to come by in the second half, although Flo did drag a shot wide from Zola's glanced header and Hesp had to save from his own defender, de Boer.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Thome, Babayaro, Petrescu, Wise, Deschamps, Morris, Flo, Zola.
Subs: Cudicini, Hogh, Poyet, Sutton, Di Matteo, Lambourde, Harley.

Barcelona: Hesp, Puyol, Abelardo, F. De Boer, Bogarde, Gabri, Xavi, Cocu, Figo, Kluivert, Rivaldo.
Subs: Arnau, Reiziger, Dehu, Guardiola, Litmanen, Dani, Simao.

Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)

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See also:

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Vialli: We were spot on
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Man Utd hold out against Real
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Bayern have edge over Porto
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Chelsea receive Babayaro boost
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Chelsea seal quarter-final spot
08 Mar 00 | Champions League
Bayern prompt Spanish slump
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Do-or-die for Lazio
01 Mar 00 | Champions League
Fiorentina maintain group lead
07 Mar 00 | Champions League
Fiorentina toppled as Barca march on
03 Apr 00 | Champions League
Giggs doubtful for Real clash
01 Mar 00 | Champions League
Giggs inspires Man Utd victory
22 Mar 00 | Champions League
Lazio steal Chelsea's thunder
22 Mar 00 | Champions League
Lucky scrape for Real
14 Mar 00 | Champions League
Man Utd qualify with ease
21 Mar 00 | Champions League
Porto into last eight
24 Mar 00 | Champions League
Spanish ties for Man Utd and Chelsea
21 Mar 00 | Champions League
United win home tie from stalemate
08 Mar 00 | Champions League
Wise rescues below-par Blues
Links to other Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.