Chelsea-3, Liverpool-2; Blues Heading to Moscow


That’s all there is to say.

That was how a Champions League semifinal should be played. That was a terrific, terrific two hours of soccer.

Congratulations to Chelsea, obviously, for winning 3-2 and advancing to Moscow to play Manchester United on May 21, in what will be the first all-English final in Champions League history.

Full credit to Didier Drogba, who has been slated by me and nearly everyone else in the blogs, newspapers, and on TV for not giving his all on the field. He shut all the critics up with his performance today, beating Pepe Reina to the near post on both of his goals.

Full credit to Frank Lampard for stepping up and nailing that PK in extra time. All the pressure in the world was on a man who just lost his mother and for him to even be playing is a testament to his mental strength. It was a precious moment to see him kiss the black armband, worn in memory of his mom, during his celebration in the corner.

For Liverpool, you also have to credit them for never giving up. Ryan Babel’s 40-yard strike in the 117th minute should’ve been saved, I understand that, but Liverpool deserved some consolation after the way they came back from 1-0 down in regular time and for the way they played in extra time. I do have to say that Steven Gerrard was largely invisible today; he had a disappointing game, and I don’t understand why Fernando Torres was taken off. If anything, Kuyt should’ve been replaced by Peter Crouch, not Babel on for the best out-and-out striker in the league this season even though Babel did end up scoring.

I thought the referee and his assistants had solid games as well. Kalou looked to have been just offside on Chelsea’s first goal, but it was a matter of inches either way and when in doubt, you give the attacker the benefit of the call. Chelsea’s penalty was justly awarded, and Hyypia’s shout for one late on was justly not given. Essien’s potential second goal was correctly disallowed as four Chelsea players were offside and Didier Drogba was impeding Reina by standing right in front of him.

That was just a mind-blowing game. As I was telling a friend, I don’t support either team but I was even feeling nervous for the majority of the game. That’s the type of action you want to see from a match of this magnitude, and it’s great that both teams delivered.

5 thoughts on “Chelsea-3, Liverpool-2; Blues Heading to Moscow”

  1. What a classic match!

    My only question is this: Why did Rafa take Banayoun off? In my mind, he was the best player on the pitch, even before the amazing runabout and assist on Torres’ goal. He was playing great defense, and stepping into the playmaker role that Gerrard usually takes. Did he run himself out or something?

    Also, why not put Crouch in earlier? He ain’t pretty, but then again, neither is Kuyt – and the guy has a knack for scoring big goals in big games.

    Finally, I disagree with you on the officiating – I thought it was pretty poor. Chelsea got the majority of the close calls – and that’s not kosher in such a big game. Terry handled the ball in the box, no penalty given. Makalele jumps to within 3 feet of the corner spot before Gerrard takes the kick, and no card is given. TWICE. Hyppia knocks Ballack down when the ball was already way out of his reach, and they give a game-deciding penalty? Those kinds of things bother me.

    That said, this was probably the best match I’ve seen this year – they could’ve played all night and I wouldn’t have left my chair. I only hope that the final is half as exciting!

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