10-man Chelsea dumps out holder Barca to reach CL final
Chelsea's Fernando Torres from Spain (L) scores a goal during the Champions League second-leg semifinal match against Barcelona on Tuesday. (PHOTO AP, Andres Kudacki)
A heroic Chelsea survived the dismissal of captain John Terry to eliminate holders Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate and clinch a place in the Champions League final after an action-packed last-four clash on Tuesday in which Lionel Messi missed a penalty.
The dramatic semifinal second leg at the Nou Camp ended 2-2 and meant Chelsea, chasing a first European title, will play Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the May 19 final with the Germans holding a 2-1 before Wednesday's Bernabeu game. A victory for Real would pit coach Jose Mourinho against former club Chelsea, who were in disarray just a few weeks ago.
Tuesday's match first swung Barca's way when they opened a two-goal lead through Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta and Terry was sent off for lifting a knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez off the ball. The home side appeared in total control but Chelsea hit back unexpectedly when Frank Lampard sent Ramires clear in first-half added time and he lifted the ball brilliantly over the onrushing Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes into the empty net.
Barca, who dominated possession throughout as they had done in losing the first leg in London 1-0, squandered a chance to make it 3-1 early in the second half when the referee awarded a penalty for a debatable Didier Drogba foul on Cesc Fabregas. World Player of the Year Messi, also denied by a post late on, crashed his spot kick against the crossbar with Petr Cech beaten and has now gone eight games without scoring against Chelsea -- by far his worst record against any club in Europe.
Substitute Fernando Torres, who had an impressive record against Barca when at Atletico Madrid but has repeatedly misfired for the Premier League side, then netted for Chelsea in stoppage time after racing clear and rounding Valdes. “Football is like that, the favorite, the best team does not always win,” a jubilant Torres told Spanish TV. “We knew that was the way we had to play against Barca and often it's not the prettiest spectacle but those are our weapons,” added the former Liverpool forward. “We have a great deal of respect for Barca, for us they are the best team in the world and that's an extra motivation.”
Chelsea's incredible rearguard action over the two legs is all the more remarkable given they sacked coach Andre Villas-Boas last month and Roberto Di Matteo is in charge only on an interim basis. They lie sixth in the Premier League. “This year the league has been disappointing but now we are through to two finals,” said Torres, whose side play Liverpool for the FA Cup on May 5 before heading to the Munich showpiece. “A bad season could still turn into a memorable one.”
Barca's elimination, meanwhile, is a fresh setback for Pep Guardiola's side after they crashed to a 2-1 La Liga reverse at home to Real on Saturday that left them seven points behind their bitter rivals with four games left and all-but ended their bid for a fourth straight Spanish crown.
Guardiola to decide on future in coming days
Pep Guardiola is contemplating his future as Barcelona coach after a 2-2 draw against Chelsea kept the Champions League holders out of the final. Guardiola has guided Barcelona to 13 trophies in 16 competitions but the team's exit from the Champions League coincides with a loss to Real Madrid that left it unlikely of winning a fourth straight Spanish league title.
“In the next days I will decide if I continue or not,” Guardiola said after Chelsea advanced from the semifinal 3-2 on aggregate. He said that he first had to weigh up the situation with assistant Tito Vilanova and president Sandro Rosell. “We'll talk about everything, about the situation and the we'll take a decision because right now, it's evident that it's time to.”
While Barcelona has won the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup this season and is considered one of the best teams ever, likely all that is left at stake at the end of the season is the Copa del Rey final next month. A 2-1 loss to Madrid on Saturday saw Barcelona drop seven points behind with four games to play as its bid for a fourth straight domestic title dims. Barcelona AP