Aggregate: Chelsea 7-5 Liverpool
Liverpool went out of Europe with their heads firmly held high after a heroic performance at the hands of a team which epitomises everything that is wrong with modern day football.
3-1 down from the first leg, Rafa Benitez’s side had to score three goals. They did so, and more.
A nervy Chelsea went behind through an audacious Fabio Aurelio free-kick on 19 minutes. The Spanish left-back catching Petr Cech unaware when everyone expected a cross, reminding Liverpool fans of Gary McAllister’s winner at Everton back in 2001 in similar style.
Chelsea were rattled, Cech in particular having an absolute nightmare. Before then Liverpool should arguably have been ahead already, with Torres placing wide with his left foot after a great combination with Benayoun on the edge of the box.
Ten minutes later, Xabi Alonso made it two-nil from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Ivanovic from another free-kick. Luckily for Skrtel the spot-kick was given, as he had somehow blazed over from 5 yards! Alonso sweeped the ball home comfortably and the comeback was on.
Numerous chances came and went before half-time but it ended 2-0 at the break.
Immediately after the restart Lucas stole in ahead of a shaky Cech, and Aurelio almost scored from the angle but it wasn’t to be.
Then, against the run of play, Anelka caused the problem down the left, crossed from an acute angle and Drogba stole in ahead of Skrtel to get a slight touch which fooled Pepe Reina and had Chelsea back believing they would go through. The goal still meant Liverpool needed one more though to take it into extra time.
But Alex’s stunning free-kick five minutes later left Liverpool needing two. And Lampard’s goal on 79 minutes after Alonso gave the ball away and Drogba again caused problems made the dream impossible.
Even without Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres, replaced by Ngog and Riera. And, of course skipper Steven Gerrard. Ten minutes to go, Lucas had a shot from the edge of the box deflected off Essien and Kopites dared to dream again, surely not?
A minute later, they were believing again. Riera crossing for Dirk Kuyt to head past Cech. One more and we’d be through…
But Lampard’s second goal with Liverpool throwing everything forward killed the match and the tie.
Chelsea fans waved their plastic flags, provided for them by the club (they stopped booing after half-time) while the Liverpool faithful saluted their fallen heroes with a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Showing the Londonders what REAL Support is. Supporting your team no matter what.
Through the wind and the rain.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Anelka 36), Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba (Di Santo 90).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Mikel, Deco, Belletti, Mancienne.
Booked: Ivanovic, Carvalho, Ashley Cole.
Goals: Drogba 52, Alex 57, Lampard 76, 89.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa (Babel 85), Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Lucas, Mascherano (Riera 69), Alonso, Kuyt, Torres (Ngog 80), Benayoun.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Agger.
Booked: Benayoun, Arbeloa.
Goals: Aurelio 19, Alonso 28 pen, Lucas 81, Kuyt 82.
Ref: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain)