Chelsea defied all odds on Wednesday evening as they overcame a two goal first leg deficit to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals thanks to a 4-1 win over Napoli at Stamford Bridge.
A forthnight ago, the Blues were outplayed as they suffered a 3-1 defeat in Italy, a result which was the beginning of the end for Andre Villas-Boas. Fast forward three games and the West Londeners have won three on the bounce under new boss Roberto di Matteo and are the Premier League’s sole representative in the last eight of the competition.
Many people didn’t give them a chance heading into the game considering the deficit they faced along with their own poor attacking form and vunerability at the back but things have changed it seems under the new manangement and despite some nervy moments at the back in the opening exchanges of this one, Chelsea looked comfortable at the back- largely helped by the return of skipper John Terry.
After both sides’ exchanging early blows, it was the home side who hit the front just before the half hour mark as the impressive Ramires picked out Drogba in the box to head past De Sanctis. It was the boost the whole ground needed.
Just after the interval Chelsea scored their second to go level on aggregate as John Terry found himself unmarked from a corner before finding the back of the net to send the Bridge faithful into raptures. Their celebrations were short lived though as Napoli’s attacking quality was there for all to see and they got the breakthrough just moments later when Inler’s superb strike from outside the box beat Cech.
Chelsea now needed a goal in the last half hour to salvage their European ambitions and with Torres on they threw the kitchen sink at the Italians but werent reaping too many rewards.
It was becoming very anxious at the Bridge, that was until former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena handled the ball in the box to allow Frank Lampard to step up and send the game into extra time.
At this stage both sides were tiring especially the visitors after they had spent most of the game without the ball but with the likes of Hamsik and Cavani up front, they always looked dangerous and kept Luiz and Terry on their toes all game. But it was the Blues who snatched it as Ivanovic fired home from Drogba’s cross on 105 minutes.
Napoli had a quarter of an hour to try and nick it but in truth they never really looked like scoring and in the end Chelsea saw it out without too much fuss.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid beat CSKA Moscow 4-1 to comfortably advance to the next round thanks to yet another brace from Cristiano Ronaldo. Tonight, both Manchester clubs will be looking to keep their European season alive as they both face one goal deficits from their Europa League first legs.
Man City are trailing Portoguese giants Sporting Lisbon 1-0 from their first leg seven days ago but Mancini’s men will be confident of turning it around at Eastlands. Their rivals United are in Spain to face the impressive Bilbao. They squandered a one goal lead last week and ended up being defeated 3-2. They will have their work cut out to qualify.