Match Report: Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (7-5 on agg)

Where do i start? Well please do not hate me for this but fair play to Liverpool last night. I am sure that before the game when we all hear...

Where do i start? Well please do not hate me for this but fair play to Liverpool last night. I am sure that before the game when we all heard that Gerrard was not playing or even involved in the squad last night we either thought "Great! Even easier for us!" but weren't we wrong in a big way. I said in my preview and match day posts that we needed a good start last night and it was there for all to see that we had an absolute nightmare in the first half. The only "chance" of note was Lampards free kick then went wide just past the near post. Apart from that for some very strange reason we sat back on our lead and gave Xabi Alonso all the time and space in the world to get control on the ball and ping the ball about the pitch without being shut done and he killed us first half.

Hiddink said after the game he had a tactical game plan to attack Liverpool and to not sit on our lead and to me in that first half we slipped into the Scolari way of playing towards the end of his Management. We sat too deep, Drogba and Lampard were non existent and hardly closed anyone down. If Lampard was asked to get on Alonso it never happened. Essien looked as thought he didn't know whether or not to push forward or to sit next to Ballack. In the first leg he had Gerrard in his pocket. I kept saying to the screen last night to push Essien on Alonso and take him out of the game.
I am sure like me once we went into half-time 2-0 down and 3-3 on aggregate you thought the worst!

That is one thing being a Chelsea fan, It's never easy and they always put us through it! The first goal is a debatable one. Should Cech of saved it? Yes i believe he should of done. He was expecting the cross and took a step to his right as Aurelio struck the ball, this step to the right proved costly and we were 1-0 down. The penalty was a penalty. You can't do that in European football now and expect to get away with it every single time. Yes it goes on, but that's holding with an arm or something.To Bear-Hug the bloke was ridiculous. I called it to Cech's right hand side but he fell for Torres' telling him what side Alonso was going to go on the edge of the 18 yard box and Alonso put it into the other corner. 2-0 down at half time and up till now its been a nightmare.

I want to put it on record now. I totally agree with Hiddinks decision to take Kalou off for Anelka 35 Min's into the game. The only player at this point who had played half decent was Malouda. Kalou had a shocker like the other players in the side but i think the stage and pressure got the better of him. He has done well for us in the first leg and recent games but last night was nowhere to be seen! All sorts of things are going on in our heads now, Why are we playing so bad? Why are we sitting back? Why have we made a meal of this game? Hope to God they don't score again early in the second half and what makes it worse is that you have to sit there and watch the replay of key moments in the half.

So second half started and one thing was noticeable from the beginning. Super Frank was coming deeper to collect the ball and get on the ball. So i began to feel better about the game already. We were now playing higher up the pitch and pressing Liverpool back. I had written in my preview to this game on an older post lower down the page that one of the key battles was to be our wingers forcing the two Liverpool full backs onto the back foot. We managed to get on the ball early in the second half and Anelka did that to Aurelio. He got to the byline crossed it in which i thought Reina fumble into the net on his own, but the goal line camera shows a great faint touch from Drogba who makes something out of nothing and we are back on track 2-1.

At this point Drogba is now well up for the game and begins to stamp his authority on Carragher and Skrtel (who again i can't believe is playing ahead of Agger by the way) and begins to win his free-kicks. First half, going down like he had been shot hadn't helped us but this half he is a different "hungry" player. He wins a free kick 25 yards out and i will be honest i was calling for Ballack to take it. But Alex steps up and fires a rocket past Reina who got his hand to it but just couldn't stop it! 2-2 game back on now as we are 5-3 on aggregate.

So at this point i am thinking game over probably like most of you! How wrong could we be. I got even more confident when Ballack plays the ball of the game across the back four to Didier who had made a great run from right to left across the back four of Liverpool. He beats his man and i am screaming "Shoot" but to his credit, he plays it square to Mr dependable unmarked 10 yards out and Frank makes it count although again Reina gets his hand to it but only deflects it on the top corner 3-2 Chelsea!

Now i am feeling that the game is well and truly over. Reira and Ngog have been thrown on now for Liverpool and they begin to impose their game on us again, some scrappy play on the edge of box where we are unable to clear our lines leads to an almost identical goal that won the League game for them at the Bridge. Lucas hits one looking like its straight down Cech's throat that takes a deflection and finds the bottom corner, Cech no chance 3-3 on the night 6-4 Chelsea on agg.

At this point i am now thinking its okay as we still have a two goal advantage and not to panic.
Then the Liverpool tide begins to mount as we begin to sit back again and just hoof the ball down the pitch to clear our lines. Eventually the ball is played out to Reira who puts a great cross in the box for Kuyt totally unmarked from 6 yards to score to make it 3-4 on the night. Watch the reply of the goal. Just before the cross is put in the box Ashley Cole has a look at Kuyts position. See's where he is but doesn't attempt to block him off or follow his run. Sorry Ash but that's your man so his reaction to have a pop at others next to him after the goal is scored isn't justified for me. Sloppy again from Chelsea and again i am now in full panic mode like the rest of you.

Look at the clock again and think just see this out Chelsea do not fold again!
But to our credit we carried on going forward. Anelka did great again on the right, Drogba wins the loose ball on the right hand side after Anelka goes down and looks like he is in half a mind to take a tumble for the free kick but to his credit stays on his feet, Anelka is back up on his feet and cuts inside See's Lampard who shows Ballack exactly what he should of done when he had the same chance and puts it into the far corner, the ball hits the post.. rolls over to the other side.. i'm thinking please don't bounce out to Reina's hands but it doesn't and hits the back of net! We have done it now i am thinking! Thank God for Lampard! 4-4 on the night and 7-5 on agg.

I know Liverpool had a couple of other chances, Cech pushed one wide and Ivanovic headed the cross away after Cech had saved and Essien produced a fantastic goal line clearance heading the ball away while Cech was beaten once more. I can't remember if that was before or after we scored our last goal but was just as important as the killer goal from Lampard. For all the neutrals in Europe watching the game it must have been fantastic. For me it was one extreme to the other. A nightmare turned into elation and then back to a nightmare but finished with celebrations once more!. The final whistle goes and we are through to play Barcelona in the semi-finals. This is the 5th time in 6 seasons we have made the Semi-Finals and its a great acheivement.

I would like to point out my own personal view for Man-of-the-Match and you may agree with me or you may not. Malouda last night was exceptional. I admit i have been someone who has knocked his performances for Chelsea. We just have not seen the form he showed for Lyon or anywhere near that until Guus Hiddink came in. Since then he has forced his way into the team and is getting better and better. Last night he was fantastic. Taking defenders on and beating them, getting amongst it defending for us and creating chances. Well played Mr Malouda. I owe you an apology. Just keep producing like that! On a sour note Ashley Cole was booked and he misses the first leg in Barcelona.

Why Chelsea do you do it to us again! Why can't you just go out there and get the job done early so we can relax a bit. No-one expected Liverpool to play the way they did without Gerrard and hats of to them but thank God for our heart, determination and fighting spirit cause it was those qualities of our side that got us through!

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