Forget your history, we’re going to Moscow
@ChelseaChadder looks back at a memorable European night against Liverpool
Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2 30th April 2008
UEFA Champions League Semi-Final (2nd Leg), Stamford Bridge
Chelsea; Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Claude Makelele, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard (Andriy Shevchenko 119), Joe Cole (Nicolas Anelka 90), Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou (Florent Malouda 70), John Terry
Scorers; Drogba (2), Lampard
Manager; Avram Grant
Referee; Roberto Rosetti
It was no secret that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was keen on winning the Champions League. In his first year with the club manager Claudio Ranieri guided them to the semi finals. A year later Jose Mourinho did the same, losing to Liverpool due to Luis Garcia’s ghost goal. In the following season the Blues were drawn in the same group as Liverpool with both games ending 0-0. Chelsea qualified for the knockout stage but were dumped out by Barcelona.
In the 2006/07 season Chelsea again made it to the semi finals and again faced Liverpool. Joe Cole had given Mourinho’s men a 1-0 lead in the first leg at Stamford Bridge. In the return game at Anfield it was Daniel Agger who made it 1-0 to the home side forcing the tie into extra time. No goals were scored and so penalties were needed to find a finalist. Liverpool won 4-1 on penalties with Arjen Robben and Geremi failing to score for the Blues.
Chelsea were so close to reaching their first Champions League final and the 2007/08 showpiece involved Abramovich’s home country hosting it, in Moscow. In their opening game they faced Rosenborg from Norway. The Scandinavians surprised the Blues by earning a 1-1 draw and even took a 1-0 lead. Even more shocking was that manager Jose Mourinho was sacked after this game with the Director of Football, Avram Grant, taking over as boss. This made a lot of Chelsea fans upset and angry that the Special One was being replaced by someone without a decent track record.
Avram Grant’s men did manage to get through the group stage before disposing Olympiacos and Fenerbahce. This then set up a semi final against… Liverpool. The two clubs had become fierce rivals due to the number of times they had played each other in recent history. Chelsea had been more dominant on the domestic front but Liverpool had the upper hand in Europe.
Just before the first leg Frank Lampard’s mum was admitted into hospital for pneumonia. Frank had missed Premier League games against Wigan and Everton to be by her side. She appeared to be getting better so Lamps declared himself ready for the game vs Liverpool. It was the Merseysiders who looked like they had got the better of the Blues once more when Dirk Kuyt made it 1-0 just before half time. However, in the final minute of the game substitute Salomon Kalou crossed the ball from the left, it landed right on Riise’s head. The Norwegian’s stooped header flew past Pepe Reina into his own net to make a 1-1 on the night and is the reason why Chelsea fans love Salomon Kalou. After the game Lampard rushed back to hospital to be with his mum again.
Chelsea’s next game was a title decider against Manchester Utd. A win for reds would mean the Blues would only be able to win the league via goal difference if results went their way. On the day the Blues did win 2-1 courtesy of two Michael Ballack goals, including one controversial penalty. Frank Lampard did not play because his mum had passed away two days earlier. The news of her death hit him hard.
For the second leg there was some uncertainty whether Lampard would play. In the end he declared himself ready and available to Avram Grant and the Israeli manager picked him from the start. Things began well when Didier Drogba opened the scoring after 33 minutes after smashing the ball home. It was enough to put them in front. In the second half, future blue, Fernando Torres equalised and at the end of 90 minutes the score was 1-1, with an aggregate score of 2-2; both teams scoring an away goal. This meant extra time was needed.
Michael Essien had the home fans jumping on their feet as his strike from the edge of the area flew into the Liverpool net. However, celebrations were cut short as it was ruled out for offside. A few minutes later they did have something to get excited about when Michael Ballack was tripped in the box by Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia. The man to step up and take the penalty was Frank Lampard. It was a tense moment as players and fans watched on wondering if he was the right man for the job. There was no doubting his ability but his focus and concentration may have been compromised by the recent death of his mum. Lampard steadied himself to take the spot kick and slotted it into the net with Pepe Reina diving the wrong way. The goalscorer then proceeded to run to the corner flag, got down on his knees and began to kiss his black armband, worn in memory of his mother. It was an emotional moment for him and for everybody associated with the club. He then sent a kiss to his dad who was watching in the stands.
There were still around twenty minutes to play but at the end of the first period of extra time the Ivorian striker put his team 3-1 up on the night. The whole ground erupted and fans could start planning their trip to Moscow. Ryan Babel had other ideas and his long range strike beat Petr Cech from 30 yards with just three minutes left. A goal for Liverpool would send them through to another Champions League final. Luckily for the Blues they managed to hold on and book their place in the final against fellow English club Manchester Utd.