Torres puts seal on Chelsea's advance into wonderland


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The Independent Online

They were battered and depleted. They were tired and, at times, frankly desperate. But the 10 men of Chelsea held the fort. It was a magnificent performance.

Not simply because they eliminated the runaway favourites. Not simply because they lost John Terry to a red card with seven minutes of the first half to play. But because they battled on when other teams would have crumbled.

Lionel Messi missed a penalty. He also hit the post. A goal from Ramires that came from nothing with Barça two goals clear was followed by a booking that rules him out the final. The same fate befell Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles. Terry will also miss the final, for a knee in the back of Alexis Sanchez's leg. He will find little sympathy.

It was a first half that no one will forget soon. Barça circled and pressurised but not until 10 minutes before the break did they score. Chelsea threw everything in the way. Petr Cech made an excellent save from Messi on 20 minutes. Andres Iniesta, whose shot was blocked by Terry.

Chelsea's defence lasted intact for 12 minutes until Gary Cahill came off with a thigh strain. Jose Bosingwa came on at right-back, Branislav Ivanovic switched into the centre. It was from that flank which the first Barcelona goal originated, on 35 minutes. Sanchez slipped Isaac Cuenca down the right and his cross was met by Sergio Busquets. Three minutes later came Terry's red card.

With a minute left of the half Sanchez found Messi, who had the time and space to play Iniesta in with a ball inside Bosingwa.

Then the tie turned on its head. Frank Lampard played the ball between the Barça defence, Ramires took it on and hit a chip over Victor Valdes' head. In the aftermath of his celebration, Ramires was booked by the Turkish referee, Cuneyt Cakir.

Messi's penalty miss came three minutes after half-time. It was given for Didier Drogba's trip on Cesc Fabregas. When Messi's penalty pinged off the crossbar it felt entirely in keeping with Barça's current troubles.

Roberto Di Matteo brought Salomon Kalou on in place of Juan Mata. Drogba popped up at left-back and right-back. Messi hit the post. Lampard was booked and then Fernando Torres, on for Drogba, had a free run at Valdes. He strolled past him and Chelsea were on their way to Munich.