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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
By Phil McNulty

Joe Cole puts Chelsea ahead against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge
Joe Cole puts Chelsea ahead at Stamford Bridge
Joe Cole's first-half goal gave Chelsea a narrow victory in their Champions League semi-final first-leg clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Cole slid in Didier Drogba's cross after 29 minutes to give Jose Mourinho's side the upper hand.

Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina produced two brilliant saves from Frank Lampard to keep the tie in the balance.

Petr Cech denied Liverpool an away goal with a stunning second-half stop from Steven Gerrard's long-range volley.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez surprisingly selected Bolo Zenden on the left flank and opted for Javier Mascherano instead of Momo Sissoko in the middle of midfield.

As for Chelsea, they gave a start to Joe Cole - and he proved an influential figure as the home side dominated the opening half.

Reina was called into action as earlier as the seventh minute, producing a marvellous reaction save to deny Lampard from 10 yards out after the midfielder had run on to Drogba's knock-down.


Drogba then failed to find Joe Cole when he was unmarked in the area and also missed out as he tried to get his own header on target under pressure from Reina.

Chelsea's pressure looked certain to pay off - and they eventually took the lead just before the half-hour mark.

Ricardo Carvalho's pass out of defence found Drogba, who turned Daniel Agger before providing a perfect cross for Cole to slide in from close range.

Liverpool's attacking responses had been fitful, limited to a tame header from Gerrard as he rose to meet Dirk Kuyt's cross.

And it was no surprise when a disappointing Craig Bellamy was replaced by Peter Crouch after 51 minutes.

The England frontman almost had an instant impact, challenging for a throw that fell for Gerrard, whose left-foot volley produced a brilliant save from Cech diving to his left.

Liverpool penned Chelsea back for long periods after the break but were unable to create any clear-cut chances.

Instead it was Reina who had to be alert, keeping out Drogba's shot at his near post.

With the tension rising in the closing stages, Drogba headed just wide after getting on the end of Lampard's free-kick.

Reina then produced a brilliant save to ensure Liverpool remained only a goal behind, diving to his left to palm away a powerful, rising drive from Lampard.

Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Makelele, Joe Cole (Wright-Phillips 84), Mikel, Lampard, Shevchenko (Kalou 76), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Boulahrouz, Geremi, Bridge, Diarra.

Goals: Joe Cole 29.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso (Pennant 83), Mascherano, Zenden, Kuyt, Bellamy (Crouch 52).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Sissoko, Paletta.

Booked: Mascherano.

Att: 39,483

Ref: Markus Merk (Germany).

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