Chelsea in Champions League quarter finals after dramatic second leg tie

Chelsea managed to turn around a 3-1 first leg deficit at Stamford Bridge against Napoli, leaving them the only English team left in the Champions League. Branislav Ivanovic bagged the extra-time winner, putting the Londoner’s 4-1 up on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.

Chelsea in Champions League quarter finals after dramatic second leg tie
Chelsea in Champions League quarter finals after dramatic second leg tie

The Blues had a mountain to climb coming into their match tonight. Having deservedly lost 3-1 in Italy three weeks ago, they needed to score at least two goals if they were to succeed. Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo took no chances and restored the old guard of Lampard, Drogba, Terry and Cole to the starting line-up, eschewing his predecessors habit of selecting young, experimental teams. And it was this old guard that dominated the match and won the game for Chelsea with their combination of experience, talent and resilience.

Drogba was the first to make his mark. 30 minutes into the first half Ramiers crossed the ball from the left into the Napoli box. The big Ivorian shrugged off his marker before striking an inch perfect header past Napoli keeper De Sanctis. The goal was slightly against the run of play but it put Chelsea in confident mood. A minute later Drogba almost doubled his lead when Daniel Sturridge burst into the box from the right and whipped a ball into the strikers path. However Napoli defender Cannavaro shinned it out for a corner.

Much had been speculated of Napoli’s inability to defend in the air – they had conceded three headers in their last domestic game – and it proved to be their undoing throughout the game. Three minutes into the second half Chelsea won a corner. Frank Lampard curled in a wonderful ball and found John Terry in acres of space. The Chelsea captain headed a powerful ball into the back of the net for the second goal.

With the balance now in Chelsea's favour, Napoli needed to score. They started looking a lot more dangerous up front, making chances and testing the Chelsea defence and goalkeeper. Their hard work paid off when Terry headed away a speculative cross and the ball fell to midfielder Gökhan Inler just outside the box. The Swiss player controlled it on his chest and then struck a brilliant half volley past Petr Cech.

Chelsea responded to the goal well and once again went on the attack. Torres came on for Sturridge and immediately pressed at the Italian defence. He dribbled into Napoli’s box before laying off the ball to Ivanovic. The Serb smashed the ball and De Sanctis had to make an instinctive save. The Chelsea pressure continued and substitute Dossena made an error when he blocked a shot with his outstretched arm inside his own box. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Lampard converted with precision.

With the score level the game entered extra-time. It was end-to-end stuff with both teams giving it their all. However it was Chelsea who  scored just before the extra-time break. Ramires ran down the right wing and passed the ball to Drogba. The striker turned on the ball magnificently and found Ivanovic in the middle of the box. The Serbian drilled the ball home sending Stamford Bridge into a joyous frenzy and Chelsea into the Champion’s League quarter finals.