Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM ">Two Left Feet - Out Now! for the thinking football fan
Chelsea stormed through to the Champions League Quarter-Finals with a 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge after extra-time.
Chelsea started the better, but Napoli were always dangerous on the counter attack, a game which the home side were going to have to play if they wanted to progress.
Goals from John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba, as well as the extra-time winner from Ivanovic, sent Napoli crashing out, despite many people backing them before the game.
Di Matteo made it 3 wins out of 3 in charge, putting crisis talk was put on the backburner, as most of England gathered to support the only remaining British club in the competition.
Knowing they only had to win 2-0 to go through, The Blues could be excused for starting lightly, but knowing Napolis exceptional goal scoring exploits this season, they went attacking from the off, trying to take the lead yet again, having took the lead in every Champions League tie this season.
However, the away side had the better of the opening quarter, Hamsik denied twice by Cech, and the influential Cavani hit the side netting. It was looking like it could be a long night for Chelsea, that is until Didier Drogba leapt above the defence to power home a header from a Ramires ball in near the half hour mark.
Stamford Bridge erupted, the Ivorian was rallying the troops, and England believed. Chelsea got to half time 1-0 up, despite Cavani looking dangerous on the counter-attack, twice whipping balls in that any defender would have trouble with.
Chelsea now had 45 minutes to score another, and try and keep their third successive clean sheet, against a team who had scored 6 on the weekend whilst resting their best player.
In fact, it only took them 3 minutes. England boys combined, as John Terry rose to meet Lampards corner, to send the ground absolutely rocking. Nonetheless, the away side knew all they had to do, was score a goal, and they were through. This was the kind of game that made the Champions League so special, the fact that games can change so quickly, and that is exactly what happened. Napoli didn’t put their heads down, and just 7 minutes later, Inler struck a superb volley past Cech, giving the visitors a vital away goal, and The Bridge knew what that meant, they needed another goal.
No doubt Di Matteo would’ve known what Napoli did last Friday, and although scoring 6, then did concede 3, giving them a lot of hope going into the final half hour.
The crowd rose, as did the players, pushing forward at every chance, and Napoli started to stutter. Chelsea had been troubling all day from set-pieces, and they were again, as a corner was whipped in, a headed effort was clearly blocked by the arm of Dossena, giving the hosts a massive chance to take the tie to 4-4.
Juan Mata had missed his last two penalties, and Torres was drastically losing confidence, meaning in a week where Steven Gerrard had scored a hat-trick in a local derby, it was all up to Frank Lampard. He never looked back, and struck the penalty home, leaving Napoli players desolate.
Both sides had chances to win it, but on the balance of things, it was a game that deserved extra-time, although the players seemed to have no energy left in the tank, with several players running on empty.
Chelsea always had the momentum though, and under the floodlights with a rampant how crowd, it seemed a matter of when rather than if, and shortly before the half time in extra time, star of the show Drogba broke down the right hand side, and his fantastic low cross, was hammered home by Ivanovic, completing a fantastic performance from The Blues.
By Brad Smith