The two semifinal second-legs played in London over the past couple of days couldn’t be more contrasting. If Manchester United were clinical in their performance against Arsenal at The Emirates on Tuesday — maximum damage with minimum fuss — an explosive finish was in store for the cliffhanger at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea and Barcelona faced off to decide who deserved to meet Manchester United in the Champions League final at Rome.
Chelsea fought hard
The game had a little bit of everything: a brilliant display from Chelsea, an out-of-sorts and depleted Barcelona’s never-say-die attitude, two outstanding goals, controversy, shock, disbelief, and unbridled joy. In the end, 10-man Barcelona went through on the away goals rule, as the match finished 1-1. Andres Iniesta sending the Catalan dugout in manic frenzy with his injury-time leveller to cancel out Essien’s early left-foot volley.
That wasn’t the end of the drama on a controversial night as Chelsea were denied four penalty claims (two of which they clearly deserved) by the Norwegian referee, Ovrebo. The Blues rightly felt robbed and unduly penalized, and Drogba, who was subbed earlier in the game, emerged in his flip-flops onto the pitch, shouting obscenities at the referee and the television cameras.
Controversial Barcelona win
The scene was shocking and totally unconceivable from a professional footballer, and the Chelsea bench had a hard time restraining him. Although Drogba threatened a lot, only Ballack came closest to smacking poor old Ovrebo. Terry, Lampard, and coach Guus Hiddink, all voiced their disappointment over the sub-standard refereeing, and I think they were right in doing so.
I like watching good football, irrespective of the teams that are involved, and Chelsea played really well, really unfortunate to not progress through to the final. And Drogba losing his cool, and doing what he did in front of the referee, sadly, took the spotlight away from the good football Chelsea produced against Barcelona.
It would’ve been a special night in Rome to see United lock horns with Chelsea again. Would John Terry get a chance to redeem himself? A question we’ll have to wait for another year to answer.