Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0: Hilario has last laugh as Drogba's magic moment breaks Barcelona

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The Independent Online

You might say that Hilario had the last laugh although last night turned out to have a significance beyond the bad jokes about an unknown third-choice goalkeeper with an unfortunate name. The European champions were dispatched by a goal from Didier Drogba and from the madness of another five days at Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, this remarkable manager seized victory in the most unpromising circumstances.

No-one at Stamford Bridge would have given much hope for their side after a first half that saw the orange tide of Barcelona rising up and Lionel Messi in particular stretching the home defence to its limits. Even the booming pre-match club anthem and Chelsea flags laid on every seat which, unfurled, may have reminded Roman Abramovich of a rally from the good old days of the Soviet Union, had little influence. What mattered was the Mourinho effect.

The force of Xavi, Deco, Messi and, although peripheral, Ronaldinho threatened to swallow Chelsea, instead the great blue machine chewed them up instead. Chelsea came out after the interval to score through Drogba, a goal that stands comparison with his winner against Liverpool in September and then they gave hope to the rest of Europe by containing the world's most extravagantly gifted club side.

They ended Barcelona's unbeaten record this season and the score in Champions' League games between Mourinho and Frank Rijkaard over the last three seasons now stands at two wins each and one draw.

More pressing for the boys from the Nou Camp is the state of Group A, where they sit in second place, level on four points with Werder Bremen. The panic has not set in yet, but a point or more for Chelsea in Spain on 31 October will make it an uncomfortable scramble to qualify.

Hilario was not tested as much as he might have feared but for a man whose fleeting fame may not last any longer than these 90 minutes, a clean sheet against Ronaldinho and his supporting cast is a nice memento from an otherwise anonymous stay in England.

It could all have been very different. The way Messi set about Ashley Cole in the early stages suggested the England left-back may have been about to fall victim to the same fate as his predecessor Asier Del Horno, tormented by the miniature Argentine into a foul that saw him dismissed in February. It was a shame that Stamford Bridge responded by booing the little man in the No19 shirt.

Hilario palmed away an early Messi effort and, on 41 minutes, Messi threatened a repeat of his goal against Seville on Sunday when he had the entire opposition defence trailing him. It took Claude Makelele, Ricardo Carvalho and Cole to stop the winger when he flicked a ball over Terry's boot and cut into the box at a perilous angle for the Chelsea defence. Earlier, Deco had exchanged passes with Ronaldinho before finding Xavi in Messi's right-wing spot. Hilario had done well to keep his shot out. The Portuguese goalkeeper then flapped alarmingly at a routine cross meant for Eidur Gudjohnsen. Stamford Bridge took a deep breath and the ball was cleared.

As Chelsea's grip on the first half slipped, they had one precious chance. Drogba's shot spilling to Andrei Shevchenko three yards out who set himself to poke the ball in when Rafael Marquez made a priceless saving tackle. It was to become a recurring theme of the night, the Ukrainian's confidence wilting with every chance he spurned.

A lot of pressure and mischief orchestrated by Xavi and Deco was interrupted by a half-time interval from which Chelsea emerged transformed. Mourinho had taken charge and, while the exact tactical subtleties may be beyond the ordinary man, his midfield had a new robustness. And within a minute of the interval, Drogba's goal threw Barcelona's best-laid plans.

Essien provided the ball from the left and the Chelsea striker spun and swept it past Valdes with his right foot.

Chelsea could have killed the game in the next 10 minutes. First Essien came storming out of defence and, with Carvalho and Shevchenko either side of him, bizarrely elected to go it alone with the Barcelona defence out-numbered. The Ukrainian striker was doing the apologising a minute later when Drogba then Lampard worked it left and, with the goalkeeper to beat, Shevchenko lifted his shot over the bar.

Mourinho said later that he would stick with his £30.8m man however much he is plunged into the shade by his strike partner. "Until he scores," was Mourinho's promise to keep Shev-chenko in the team although he added the caveat that he could find himself at the mercy of the rotation system. Either way, Shev-chenko did not see out the 90 minutes and the longer he goes on, the more embarrassing it gets. Luckily for him, he has joined a team who, for now, seem capable of thriving without his goals.

Ludovic Giuly replaced Gudjohnsen, who made a low-profile return, but Barça missed Samuel Eto'o.

Chelsea have nine points this season from the Champions' League and have taken away some of the aura from Barcelona for whom this was the first defeat in 16 games in this competition. They have done it after another week of chaos and accusations which, in Mourinho's world, has become an almost permanent state.

Chelsea (4-4-2): Hilario; Boulahrouz, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole; Essien, Makelele, Ballack, Lampard; Shevchenko (Robben, 76), Drogba (Kalou, 90). Substitutes not used: Ma Kalambay (gk), J Cole, Geremi, Bridge, Ferreira.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Zambrotta, Puyol (Oleguer, 74), Marquez, Van Bronckhorst (Iniesta, 56); Xavi, Edmilson, Deco; Messi, Gudjohnsen (Giuly, 60), Ronaldinho. Substitutes not used: Jorquera (gk), Motta, Thuram, Saviola.

Referee: F De Bleeckere (Belgium).

For Petr's sake: Hilario the first-class third choice

2 mins

The stand-in Portuguese goalkeeper is given a huge cheer by the home fans as he touches the ball - a routine collection and clearance - for the first time.

10 mins

Barcelona's Edmilson tries his luck from 25 yards but Hilario watches it safely past his left-hand post.

23 mins

His first serious save. The dangerous Messi lets fly from an acute angle but the ball is parried to safety with his right hand.

30 mins

Messi again, this time left-footed, and although the ball seems to be heading just wide, Hilario takes no chances and tips it round the post.

34 mins

Awkward moment as a Carvalho clearance goes straight up. Hilario flaps at the ball and misses it but is saved by a foul given against Gudjohnsen.

42 mins

A more routine save this time. Marquez gets his head to a cross but Hilario gathers.

46 mins

The tension disappears for a moment as Drogba puts Chelsea ahead and the home goalkeeper, beaming widely, goes on a celebratory tour of his own half.

52 mins

Back into more serious action. Ronaldinho takes an age over his 30-yard free-kick, then swerves it hard towards the middle of the goal, where Hilario, juggling slightly, holds on.

63 mins

With Chelsea taking a firmer grip on the second half, Hilario is still called upon several times. Xavi tests him just after the hour with a firm shot all along the floor.

88 mins

After the Messi save in the first half, this was the next most dangerous shot. Deco makes space for himself and shoots from 20 yards, but Hilario dives to his left to save the low drive.

90 mins

Hilario has the ball in his hands as the referee blows the full-time whistle. The final touch and the final word for the previously unknown 30-year-old goalkeeper who has just kept the world's finest attacking side at bay.

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