What a night! What a performance from the Blues! This would be one of my most memorable matches as a Chelsea fan. Didn’t you love that celebration from Drogba? Didn’t you love his crazy dance with Steve Clarke? How about that penalty from that English footballer who won’t make it to the Euro?
Who in the wildest of their dreams, would have thought that Chelsea would be managed by Avram Grant when they reach their first Champions League finals? May be, that’s the icing on the cake! Now that’s like showing my middle finger to those never winning arses, once won pools and will-we-wont-we mancs. Hey wait, this pops up, does YNWA mean ‘You Never Win Anything’ or may be ‘You Never Win Anymore’ sounds better. Yay, this is our time to taunt and haunt these buggers and I’m sure you’d ensure that every single Liverpool and Arsenal fan you know, are ridiculed and made to weep.
Okay, onto the match now. Right from the start, Chelsea was quite strong in their approach. I see the difference of having the second leg at home. I knew it is a massive one, but I just realised this draw has played an incredibly important role in our march to Moscow. The atmosphere was amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard such loud support at Stamford Bridge in recent times.
I’m not going much into the finer details of the match. There were some amazing five-star performances in this match which finally put that look on tubby’s face. I think Rafa blundered big time by provoking Drogba. Didier was immense last night and was very unfortunate not to get a hattrick. His first goal was awesome. From a tight angle, to the near post, with Reina being closer to the near post, he blasted the ball at the speed of light. Watch this goal from the goal net camera angle, wow, it looks bloody frightening. And then his second goal. That ball from Anelka was a poacher’s delight. Drogba, in his current form and spirit, is never gonna miss out on those. No one else had a chance when Drogba had made up his mind. That’s how I like it!
Frank Lampard – another episode in his Chelsea legend. I thought Lampard was fantastic last night. He was quick on the ball, made neat passes and was very much in the thick of things. Then came the penalty. It would take tremendous about of guts and belief to take that crucial penalty that would send us to the finals. And boy, didn’t he take it well? The power and the conviction and the execution of the penalty on the whole, was more Ballackesque. Lampard had to take the penalty and had to score. That was the script. It was not going to be anything different. He wanted this. The team wanted this for him. This was the sequel to the Ballack header against Man Utd.
Michael Essien once again in the right back. I’m still not comfortable with this decision. He left his zone unmanned too many times and invited pressure from Liverpool. But he did one thing right and that was not in defence. The Bison was back to being the engine that we all are familiar with. Ashley Cole was brilliant. So was Terry and Carvalho. I thought Kalou was very good last night. Regular readers would know that I’m a fan of Kalou, I mean his potential rather than his performance. Last night, he troubled Liverpool with his dribbles and movement and it was his move that led to the first goal.
Joe Cole was a bit of a disappointment. He was just walking while I expected him to fly. Playing Liverpool, at Stamford Bridge, in the second leg of the semi finals, I expected him to rip the scousers apart with his step overs and rabonas. He wasn’t bad though. It’s just that he didn’t meet my expectation for the stage. Where would we have been if Ballack had played all through this season? Such situations have always been there. In 05-06, I was forever waiting for Robben and Joe Cole. In 06-07, I was waiting for Petr Cech, John Terry and some more. This season, may be it was Ballack who we missed. I wish his free kick had gone in. May be he was inspired by the Paul Scholes goal against Barca, that he kept peppering Reina with his long shots. Maka was good too. But certainly, I don’t see him playing for Chelsea next season.
One crucial thing last night, in my opinion, was also the pitch. The Stamford Bridge pitch was not the smoothest surface and it was not helped by the rain and storm. Many times, Liverpool could not play their natural game due to the slowness in the pitch and that meant intercepted passes or player over runs. While Chelse were playing comfortably, Liverpool were struggling with their long ground passes that they are normally good at. That’s where the ‘playing-the-second-leg-at-home’ thingy came handy.
One last thing. I loved the post-match celebrations. The players doing all their crazy stuff while Rafa was back in his room crying out loud. Ooh! I love Steve Clarke more than ever after his little jingle with Drogba. Why weren’t the players celebrating with Grant? His absence was incredibly glaring. I was expecting him to run onto the pitch and merge with the group of players. C’mon guys! At least for the cameras.
I’m running short of time but I got enough time to deliver a speech of thanks. My thanks to this amazing group of players who, when they get their acts together can beat Brazil 1970 (I can get hyper, right?). My thanks to Avram Grant for being the head or figure head or just the figure, whatever, at this historic moment. My thanks to those men in suits who drew the balls from the crystal bowl. My thanks to Deivid and to of course, the Chelsea legend John Arne Riise, without whom this would not have been possible. Thank you everyone . . . (sobbing)