Chelsea striker Fernando Torres sets seal on the miracle of Barcelona

Barcelona 2 Chelsea 2 (Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate)

The Nou Camp

On the occasion of the great Nou Camp siege of 24 April, 2012, the ten men of Chelsea held the fort and through the drama, the desperation and their sheer bloody determination they saved the best moment until last.

That was undoubtedly when Fernando Torres, the browbeaten, weight-of-the-world-on-his-shoulders, £50m man ran free on the Barcelona goal, tricked his way past Victor Valdes and slotted in the goal that secured Chelsea’s passage to the Champions League final. It had been a magnificently gritty performance but Torres’ finale gave it that flourish of style it deserved.

It was a historic night for the club but the price of victory was steep. John Terry’s red card seven minutes from half-time for a knee in the back of Alexis Sanchez’s leg, means he is suspended for the final. So too Raul Meireles, the first goalscorer Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic – all of whom got a second booking last night. Ivanovic had the bad news broken to him live on Sky Sports and looked as if he might need a moment to compose himself.

Yes, a place in the final came at a cost. But what a night. From two goals down and having lost both their centre-backs – Gary Cahill to injury, Terry to stupidity – Chelsea formed up into two defensive lines of white and held their nerve wonderfully. Their first goal chipped in by Ramires was a beauty and it set Barcelona a task to which even they were simply not equal.

If there was a moment that encapsulated Barcelona’s bad night then it was the penalty miss by Lionel Messi three minutes after half-time. Yes, you read that right. The man with 63 goals this season, the original penalty area assassin, did not even force a save from Petr Cech. His shot clipped the bar. But Barca did not have two bads night by accident. They had them because in both legs Chelsea refused to let them play the way they wanted.

The scale of the rebuilding job is huge. Cahill’s hamstring pull looked bad and David Luiz is currently injured too which means that along with the suspended Terry and Ivanovic there is a chance that all four centre-backs will not be able to play in the final in Munich on 19 May. Whether it is Real Madrid or Bayern Munich who come through tonight’s semi-final, that final will be a monumental task for Chelsea.

Such a pity that Roman Abramovich was not at the game last night, as Roberto Di Matteo revealed in the aftermath of the match. Abramovich has lavished the best part of £1bn on this club and last night was evidence that whatever the politics in this squad or the personal agendas, there is a soul to this team. “Something in the DNA of the players,” was Di Matteo’s explanation for their competitiveness.

For Terry it was a bad night. He has done some foolish things in his career but this one, an act of impetuosity that was always likely to land him in trouble, was out of character for a player who, at the very least, is usually too cute for such silliness. It should not be forgotten that he has been so crucial for Chelsea when he has been fit, especially in the worst times since the turn of the year, and he was exceptional in the semi-final first leg.

Terry, as much as any Chelsea player, should have been able to celebrate this revenge on Barca for the semi-final elimination of three years ago. As for another man who has bad memories of that night, Didier Drogba was superb. He chased Barca down all over the pitch and played at full-back on both flanks in the second half before finally he was replaced by Torres.

Drogba epitomised the devil in Chelsea that haunts Barcelona. In the 16th minute he came charging towards Victor Valdes like a bull across a field. The goalkeeper collided with the Chelsea man, but more damaging for Barca was Gerard Pique crashing into Valdes. Pique looked concussed and lasted another ten minutes before he had to be replaced and taken to hospital.

By then Cech had made his first excellent save from Messi with his legs on 20 minutes. The ball rebounded to Andres Iniesta, whose shot was blocked by the leg of Terry. With Jose Bosingwa on the pitch at right-back in place of Cahill and Ivanovic moved over to centre-half, Barcelona scored on 35 minutes. Alexis Sanchez slipped Isaac Cuenca down the left wing and his cross was met by Sergio Busquets in the centre.

Three minutes later came Terry’s red card. “What happened?” you could see Frank Lampard ask as Terry passed him the armband. What happened? Terry might never be able to answer that. At least he has the sense to apologise afterwards.

With a minute left of the half Sanchez found Messi who had the time and space to play in Iniesta who scored the second. Drogba was so angry he took the ball from the kick-off and lashed a hopeless shot at Valdes’ goal. Two goals down and ten men on the pitch. It looked grim for Chelsea.

It was Ramires’ goal that turned the game just before half-time. The ball came from Lampard, who was excellent throughout, and a Barcelona defence that no longer thought it had to defend allowed the Brazilian to run through them. His finish was perfect. He had been booked two minutes earlier and already knew he would miss the final.

It was Drogba’s trip on Cesc Fabregas for Messi’s penalty. When Messi missed, the ten men of Chelsea were re-organised again. Di Matteo brought Salomon Kalou on in the place of Juan Mata. Meireles and John Obi Mikel ran themselves into the ground. Bosingwa popped up at centre-half. Ashley Cole tucked in. Hatches were battened down. Holes were plugged. At one point Drogba ran forward alone and shot from just over the halfway line

Chelsea dug in. Messi hit the post again and then came the final astonishing moment when Torres had a free run at Valdes as Barcelona pushed for the goal that would win the tie. It was the Torres of 2008 who went past Valdes for the winner: confident and focussed. Just like Chelsea. They need one more great Champions League performance, albeit with half a team, to win the trophy. You just would not bet against them.

Man of the match Cole.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee C Cakir (Tur).

Attendance 95,845.

'That special spirit is part of the DNA of these players', says Di Matteo

Di Matteo's men park the yacht with Messi left all at sea

Man for man marking: Barcelona v Chelsea

James Lawton: After Terry atrocity, Chelsea heroes produce performance of their lives

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Sport
Torquay United mascot Gilbert the Gull
football
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker