On a night where Barcelona dominated every statistic except the most important one; Chelsea did (just about) enough to pip Barcelona 1-0 in this Champions League semi-final first leg.
With the visitors having efforts which hit the Chelsea bar and post; having had a shot which Ashley Cole tracked back to scramble off his goal-line and with the defending Spanish and European champions having enjoyed more than three-quarters of the possession; Chelsea will have it all to do in the second leg at Camp Nou.
The three time Premier League champions have, however, given themselves something to hold on to with Didier Drogba’s winner which came in the 47th minute of the first half.
The Ivorian would be my pick for man of the match. Having scored the goal, he battled hard all night on his own up front and though his histrionics and diving around the place was frustrating to watch, it definitely affected the tempo of the visitors. The hit man also tracked back regularly, putting in a real workmanlike shift.
The entire Chelsea line-up battled hard all night in fact; with the middle trio of Lampard, Meireles and Mikel putting a barrier in front of Cahill and Terry which forced the visitors to go out wide; a move which Ashley Cole stifled well and was never found wanting on the left flank with Ivanovic working hard on the right.
Any time Messi got the ball, he had three players (usually Lampard, Mereiles and Mikele) surrounding him and most of the time, they prevented the Argentine from weaving his magic.
For all that though; Barcelona still had eight clear cut chances; compared to Chelsea’s one chance/shot – which they scored from.
Sanchez put a lob onto the Chelsea crossbar from 15 yards out after 20 minutes. Then Fabregas had a gilt edged chance from eight yards but Terry got in his way and Fabregas panicked. Messi had a header shortly before the interval; but he was a little too far out and Cech got down to claw the ball out from beside his post. On the stroke of the whistle; Fabregas had another glorious chance. One-on-one with Cech having been put through by Messi; he lifted the ball over the Czech international; it bobbled towards goal but Cole scrambled it off his goal-line.
Adriano had a shot from 20 yards early in the second half which Cech went full length to parry. Then came the best chance of the night as Sanchez was put one-on-one with Cech from a fantastic dink from Fabregas but the No. 9 scuffed the ball a foot wide from eight yards out.
Puyol then had a header from nine yards out which produced a flying one handed save from Cech to just about turn the ball around the post. In the last minute of the 90; Barcelona came as close as they would all night with a 17 yard daisy cutter from Pedro smashing off the inside of the Chelsea post and Busquets blazed the rebound over from ten yards.
It total; Barcelona had 25 attempts at goal compared to five for the home side. The visitors would not have been flattered by a 3-1 or 4-1 win on the night. Chelsea still face a huge task to reach the final when they travel to Camp Nou next week, but with this result, they’ve given themselves something to hold on to.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard, Meireles; Ramires (Bosingwa 88), Mata (Kalou 74); Drogba.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Essien, Torres, Malouda.
Barcelona: Valdes; Dani Alves, Puyol, Mascherano; Adriano, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi (Cuenca 86); Messi, Sanchez (Pedro 67), Fabregas (Barta 79).
Subs not used: Pinto, Pique, Thiago, Keita.