Cech heroics frustrate Barca

Barcelona 0 Chelsea 0

Chelsea's defensive discipline earned them a precious goalless draw against Barcelona to make them slight favourites to reach their second successive Champions League final.

Coach Guus Hiddink's pre-match prediction that the first leg of this semi-final tie would be saturated in goals proved incorrect as Chelsea put in a highly competent defensive shift.

Hiddink's tactic of giving holding roles to both John Obi Mikel and Michael Ballack worked superbly and Lionel Messi was marked out of the contest by Jose Bosingwa.

Barca's strike force of Samuel Eto'o, Messi and Thierry Henry have scored 90 goals between them in all competitions so far this season. But Henry proved to be Barca's real danger man when he twice forced Petr Cech into important saves in the opening half.

However, to a man, Chelsea were defiant and disciplined with full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Bosingwa faultless while John Terry and Alex were solid as a rock.

Hiddink will be more than pleased with the night's work and Chelsea should have enough in their artillery to go on and finish the job in the return match next week.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric with the Nou Camp faithful in full voice.

The hosts almost grabbed an early lead when a free-kick from the left reached Samuel Eto'o at the far post after Cech misread the flight of the ball. However, the Cameroon striker's far-post header flashed across the face of the goal with Rafael Marquez unable to connect.

Cech was in trouble again in the 11th minute when he surprisingly opted to punch clear a cross by Eric Abidal.

Luckily for the Czech, none of the Barcelona forwards were quick enough to capitalise on his error.

But Barcelona soon gained control of the midfield and when Messi slipped Daniel Alves clear, the full-back's dangerous low cross was cleared decisively by Alex.

Moments later, Eto'o tried his luck from 20 yards but his low drive was more than a little wayward and Cech was untroubled by his effort.

Barcelona pegged Chelsea back with a series of corners as the half-hour approached.

Chelsea's defence repelled the danger every time but the Blues were forced to camp in their own half as Barcelona looked for an opening.

In the 28th minute Xavi almost broke the deadlock with a long-range drive that flashed past Cech's right-hand upright.

Moments later Ballack was booked for a foul on Henry but the Barca player certainly made the most of it as he rolled on the ground as though he had been shot.

In the 31st minute though Henry was fit enough to unleash an angled drive that Cech gathered at the near post.

Cech pulled out another outstanding save to deny Henry again in the 34th minute as Barcelona continued to test Chelsea's defensive resolve at every opportunity.

Florent Malouda appeared to catch Alves in an off-the-ball incident and moments later the pair were involved in another spat which German referee Wolfgang Stark again chose to ignore.

But Chelsea should have been ahead when a dreadful back pass by Marquez put Didier Drogba clear in the 38th minute but the Ivorian's shot was twice saved superbly by Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Barcelona suffered a major blow in the 50th minute when Marquez went down clutching the back of his knee and was carried off with possible ligament damage. He was immediately replaced by Carles Puyol.

But the Catalans won a corner in the 58th minute from which Messi volleyed high over the crossbar from 20 yards.

But Chelsea's defending had been admirable from the kick-off and Hiddink's side showed no sign of capitulating.

Whenever the home side did break through they found Cech in their way. In the 61st minute he proved his worth yet again when he blocked a ferocious angled drive from Alves.

In the 67th minute the former Sevilla star sent a free-kick just over the crossbar and Cech denied Eto'o with a fabulous save when the Barca striker got free of Alex for the first time in the game in the 69th minute.

Frank Lampard was replaced by Juliano Belletti in the 71st minute as Chelsea looked to protect the stalemate.

Puyol was booked for a foul on Michael Essien in the 75th minute and the card rules him out of the return leg at Stamford Bridge.

But Barcelona substitute Bojan Krkic could have won the first leg for his side but he somehow headed a cross from Alves over the bar from point-blank range, and there was still time for fellow sub Alexander Hleb to be denied by another great save from Cech in stoppage time.

It was their last chance and it could have costly repercussions for Pep Guardiola and his side at Stamford Bridge next week.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Not quite what they were expecting

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up