Riise own goal gives Chelsea advantage

A last second John Arne Riise own goal gives Chelsea the advantage after the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. Liverpool had dominated the match and had lead through Dirk Kuyt’s goal just before half time.

Deep into four minutes of stoppage time Riise headed past Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina to turn advantage Liverpool into advantage Chelsea going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday.

Earlier, Kuyt had nestled into the Chelsea defence to take advantage of weak defending and give the home team the lead.

Half-way through the second half Liverpool full back Fabio Aurelio pulled up with a groin strain and was replaced by Riise.

The Reds have their work cut out and must now at least score at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday to progress to the European Cup Final in Moscow on May 21st.

Match Report from BBC Sport

John Arne Riise’s injury-time own goal gave Chelsea the advantage in their Champions League semi-final.

Dirk Kuyt’s close-range finish three minutes before the interval looked to have secured Liverpool a slender lead.

And it took fine saves from Petr Cech to deny Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres as Liverpool threatened to put the tie out of Chelsea‘s reach.

But Riise headed in Salomon Kalou’s cross five minutes into injury time to give Chelsea a priceless away goal.

Chelsea boss Avram Grant surprisingly gave Florent Malouda the nod on the left flank, while Liverpool dropped Sami Hyypia and drafted in Alvaro Arbeloa.

In a typically cagey start, Chelsea had more of the possession but Liverpool carved out the clearer opportunities.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard shot straight at Cech after seven minutes, then Kuyt’s poor control let him down after he was sent clear by Xabi Alonso, allowing the Chelsea keeper to make the clearance.

Joe Cole wasted Chelsea‘s best opportunity when he was sent clear in the area, but he failed to realise the amount of time he had and the chance was gone.

Chelsea had penalty appeals waved away when Didier Drogba tumbled under Jamie Carragher’s challenge before Torres was denied by a brilliant save from Cech.

The Spanish marksman was cleverly played in by Gerrard, but Cech was alert and came out to make a crucial block.

But he was powerless when Liverpool took advantage of a catalogue of defensive errors to take the lead two minutes before half-time.

Chelsea were caught out by Alonso’s quick free-kick and when Lampard failed to clear, Kuyt stole in on the end of Javier Mascherano’s mis-kick to steer the finish past Cech.

The goal gave Liverpool a further injection of confidence and they dominated the early stages of the second half, with Ryan Babel fizzing a 25-yard shot just wide after 58 minutes.

Chelsea needed to regain a foothold in the game, and boss Grant made a change to send on Kalou for the subdued Joe Cole.

Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina had been virtually unemployed, but he was in action after 66 minutes when Michael Ballack headed on Lampard’s free-kick.

And it then took a vital interception from Mascherano to block Malouda after Lampard carved open the Liverpool defence.

Chelsea had shown greater purpose in the latter stages, but once again Liverpool’s trademark defensive resilience had kept them at bay.

And with six minutes left they broke the shackles and Cech needed to produce a stunning stop to turn Gerrard’s rising volley over the bar.

Cech made another fine block from Torres in injury-time – and its value was emphasised by dramatic events seconds later.

Kalou’s cross sparked uncertainty in the six-yard area and Riise, in two minds, sent a spectacular flying header into the top corner at The Kop end.

Team Line-ups

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio (Riise 61), Kuyt, Alonso, Mascherano, Babel (Benayoun 75), Gerrard, Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Hyypia, Crouch, Pennant, Lucas.

Goals: Kuyt 43.

Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Makelele, Ballack (Anelka 86), Joe Cole (Kalou 63), Drogba, Malouda.
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Shevchenko, Obi, Alex, Belletti.

Booked: Terry.

Goals: Riise 90 og.

Att: 42,180
Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria)