Essien's power denied final glory by his own error

Midfielder's wonder goal counts for nothing after late blunder hands Barça chance

If Lionel Messi sums up all that is good about Barcelona, then Michael Essien could be said to do the same for Chelsea. He runs, he kicks and by heck, he can play.

It was Essien's wonder goal that set Chelsea believing they were going to Rome to make amends for last year's defeat on penalties to Manchester United. He worked like a Trojan throughout, hassling and harrying as Chelsea strove to ensure Barcelona could not convert their greater possession into that vital goal.

But ultimately it was his slip which cost his team the tie. He should have done better with a clearance deep into stoppage time, and Andres Iniesta pounced to bring the game to its amazing end.

The error was harsh on Essien. He has been one of the heroes of Chelsea' resurgence since returning to the side after damaging his knee ligaments. He was one of the power players Barcelona feared.

Since Claude Makelele left London to return to Paris last summer, the uncomplaining Essien has been pressed into a role of midfield destroyer. He was at it again last night, in tandem with Michael Ballack, patrolling the area in front of the back four with menace, energy and power. But there is so much more to his game, as he showed with a strike of such shocking ferocity and accuracy it shattered Barcelona's belief that their beautiful football deserved to win.

Barcelona did nothing much wrong as Chelsea attacked in the ninth minute, but when the ball broke to Essien, deflected up off Barcelona defender Yaya Touré, he hit the volley with such timing and technique it almost broke the bar before bouncing into the net.

Essien moved to Chelsea in August 2005 for £24.4m but only because the club had failed to land their No 1 target, Steven Gerrard. Essien's wonder goal was trademark Gerrard.

One day a Chelsea manager is going to let Essien off the leash, and give him the licence to play the explosive football of which he is clearly capable. But last night was not the occasion, notwithstanding his brilliant goal. Essien fully understands the importance of self-sacrifice for the team. So for the rest of the night he reverted to playing the role of destroyer with his usual energy and discipline.

Whenever Barcelona playmaker Xavi had the ball he was faced by Essien, Ballack or Frank Lampard. Sometimes all three. Chelsea were determined to starve the Spaniard of any space. With Iniesta pressed into attack and Touré asked to play in defence, the Barcelona midfield was devoid of its normal shape and vigour.

But that is to take nothing away from the way Chelsea imposed themselves on the visitors. The midfield were determined not to let Barcelona pass. Chelsea's defeat to Manchester United in Moscow a year ago is the greatest motivation any player could want. For men like Lampard and Ballack, John Terry and Didier Drogba, the memories of that night in the Luzhniki Stadium will only be banished when they finally lift the trophy.

The determination to make amends for that night drove Chelsea on. When Lionel Messi cut inside, there was Essien to block his way. Daniel Alves made a dash forward from right back and Lampard blocked his path. Seydou Keita fired in a shot, and Ballack deflected the ball away for a corner. Xavi shot from distance, and Ashley Cole dived in to block.

Everyone chipped in for the collective cause. But it was the finest of lines Chelsea were treading. And they were caught out in the most cruel of manners, as Essien failed to clear and Iniesta applied the coup de grâce.

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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.

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits