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Page last updated at 21:21 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 22:21 UK

Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (4-3)

By Sam Lyon

Didier Drogba
Drogba celebrates his fine opener in front of the Liverpool bench

Didier Drogba scored twice as Chelsea swept into their first Champions League final at the expense of Liverpool on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge.

The Ivorian opened the scoring with a 12-yard strike, but Fernando Torres's drive sent the game into extra-time.

Frank Lampard restored the lead from the spot after Michael Ballack had been felled, before Drogba prodded a third.

Ryan Babel's 35-yarder prompted a tense finale, but Chelsea held on to seal a tie with Manchester United in Moscow.

Grant happy to 'make history' with Chelsea

It was an emotional night for Lampard, who was back in the starting line-up for the first time since the death of his mother six days earlier from pneumonia.

He looked calm and composed as he slotted home the penalty in extra-time but as he celebrated by kissing a black armband worn in remembrance of his mother Pat and pointed to the rain-lashed sky above, the emotions flooded out.

Chelsea's win was sweet revenge, having been knocked out of the competition at this stage three times in the last four years, including twice by Liverpool in 2005 and 2007.

And it was just about deserved on a tumultuous night's football, their reward being a titanic encounter against their rivals for the Premier League title.

Both sides made two changes to the teams that started the first leg at Anfield, Michael Essien returning from a European ban and Salomon Kalou preferred to Florent Malouda for Chelsea, Liverpool replacing Babel and the injured Fabio Aurelia with Yossi Benayoun and John Arne Riise.

But, as was the case last week, it was the home side that made the early running and Drogba forced the first save of the night with a skiddy effort from 25 yards.

606: DEBATE
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Liverpool's plan was apparently to soak up pressure and then look for Torres at every opportunity. The plan almost reaped rewards on 10 minutes when the Spaniard ran onto Steven Gerrard's fine pass, only for Petr Cech to smother his shot from eight yards.

It was as close as the visitors got in the first half, though, as Chelsea dictated both possession and chances.

Drogba - so impressive in the Blues' weekend win over Manchester United - was at the heart of all that was good about the hosts' play, but he should have done better when he clipped wide having been set clean through in the box by Lampard's incisive pass.

Liverpool's cause was not helped by an injury to Martin Skrtel, the defender limping off with a knee injury, and things got worse for the Reds when Chelsea scored on 33 minutes.

Fittingly, Drogba grabbed the goal, the Ivorian drilling in with aplomb after Kalou, who had been set free by Lampard, had brought a diving stop from Reina.

Benitez proud of players despite defeat

Replays suggested Kalou had run onto Lampard's through-ball from an offside position but Drogba, so heavily criticised by Rafael Benitez before the game for diving, showed no remorse as he grasped the opportunity to celebrate in front of the Liverpool bench.

Ballack almost rounded off the half with a superb free-kick that flew inches wide and the visitors appeared understandably relieved to go into half-time with the score just 1-0.

Fernando Torres
Torres levelled in normal time but Chelsea held on to seal a final spot
Something had to change for the Reds - and it did - Liverpool almost making a dream start to the second half when Dirk Kuyt forced a smart save from Cech eight yards out.

Gerrard, superbly marshalled by Claude Makelele, had been anonymous in the opening 45 but, with Chelsea happy to sit deep, the midfielder helped Liverpool back into the match.

The Blues suddenly looked short of rhythm and their lack of sharpness was exposed when Benayoun strolled infield and slipped in Torres, the Spaniard spinning on a sixpence and lashing into the corner.

It was Liverpool's first goal at Stamford Bridge in 841 minutes of football, spanning nine matches, and meant the match was destined for extra-time.

The extra period fizzled with controversy - sparked when an Essien drive from 22 yards out flew into the net, only to be ruled out because four Chelsea players stood offside.

The Blues' protests that they were not interfering were muted seconds later, though, as Sami Hyypia felled Ballack and Lampard dispatched the resultant penalty brilliantly.

Seven minutes later Chelsea went two goals clear when Drogba swept home Anelka's pass from six yards.

The touch paper had well and truly been lit and, after Hyypia had penalty appeals waved away following a Drogba challenge, Babel reduced the arrears with a speculative effort from 35 yards that Cech should have done better with.

It was a frantic end to an astonishing match, but Chelsea saw it out to send the home fans into raptures and put themselves in with a chance of becoming the first London club to lift Europe's most sought-after prize.


Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole (Anelka 91), Ballack, Makelele, Lampard (Shevchenko 119), Kalou (Malouda 70), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Obi, Alex, Belletti.

Goals: Drogba 33, Lampard 98 pen, Drogba 105.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel (Hyypia 22), Riise, Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun (Pennant 78), Gerrard, Torres (Babel 99).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Finnan, Crouch, Lucas.

Goals: Torres 64, Babel 117

Booked: Alonso, Arbeloa.

Att: 38,900

Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Chelsea's Didier Drogba 7.65 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
Champions League photos
30 Apr 08 |  Europe
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe


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