Late Drogba strike puts Chelsea through in Turin

Juventus 2 Chelsea 2 (Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate)
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chelsea fought back twice to overcome Juventus and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Blues went into the last-16 return leg with a one-goal advantage but that was soon wiped out by Vincenzo Iaquinta's 19th-minute strike.

But the visitors levelled moments after referee Alberto Undiano had ruled that a free-kick by Didier Drogba had not crossed the goal line in the 44th minute.

The debate became academic in first-half stoppage time as Frank Lampard's shot came down off the underside of the bar for Michael Essien to bundle home.

But Juventus restored their lead on the night when Undiano awarded the Italian side a 74th-minute penalty for handball by Juliano Belletti.

However, Chelsea battled back for a second time when Drogba prodded home a cross from Belletti in the 83rd minute to give the Blues a 3-2 aggregate win.

The Serie A giants knew an early goal was a requirement if they were to get themselves back into a tie that kicked-off in Chelsea's favour thanks to Drogba's match-winner at Stamford Bridge.

Pavel Nedved was twice down injured in the opening eight minutes. The first time after a collision with Essien and the second when he came off worst in a clash with Nicolas Anelka.

He was replaced in the 12th minute by Hasan Salihamidzic after failing to respond to lengthy treatment on the sidelines.

Nedved's loss as a bitter blow to the Juve cause as he had been the architect of their fine start.

But Chelsea's worst fears were realised in the 19th minute when Iaquinta put the Italians level on aggregate.

The Juve forward was put clear by David Trezeguet and lashed an angled dive beyond Petr Cech.

Guus Hiddink's side were guilty of far too many misplaced passes as they tried to get themselves back on level terms on the night.

Instead it was Juve who continued to set the pace of the game and John Terry had to be alert to keep Trezeguet from getting on the end of a Del Piero pass in the 39th minute.

However, in the 41st minute, Anelka found himself with the perfect chance to test Buffon when the ball fell at his feet on the edge of the penalty area.

But despite having the luxury of time and space, the Frenchman's effort almost hit the corner flag.

It had been a dreadful display by the English side who had shown a complete lack of ideas and invention in the opening half. But it was all to change inside two crazy minutes.

Chelsea were at the centre of controversy in the 44th minute when a free-kick from Drogba was clearly over the goal line but not given by Undiano or his assistants.

But seconds later it was immaterial as Frank Lampard's shot hit the underside of the bar and Essien, playing his first game since being injured last September, bundled the ball home for the equaliser.

Essien's goal had capped a fine comeback for the midfielder who ruptured his knee ligaments on international duty with Ghana last September.

His goal left Juventus needing to score twice to progress to the quarter-finals at Chelsea's expense.

Chelsea were understandably put under pressure by the Italians when the second half began.

Former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri stood inside the technical area as his side toiled away without success.

The Stadio Olimpico had lost its first-half fervour and Chelsea took advantage of the change in atmosphere to put more pressure on the home side.

In the 54th minute, Giorgio Chiellini was shown a yellow card for upending Ballack but this time Drogba's free-kick fell kindly into the waiting arms of Buffon.

The home crowd then voiced their disapproval when Ranieri replaced goal-scorer Iaquinta with Sebastian Giovinco in the 61st minute.

Cech was then shown a yellow card after a shot from Giovinco deflected off Jose Bosingwa.

The Chelsea 'keeper handled the ball outside the penalty area as he tried to prevent it going for a corner.

In the 65th minute Cech atoned for his error with a flying save to keep out a header from Trezeguet.

Del Piero's cross had eluded the Chelsea defence and although Trezeguet found power with his header, Cech was equal to the task.

Moments later Chelsea replaced hero Essien with Juliano Belletti. The Ghanaian midfielder was clearly not fit enough to finish the game.

Juventus hopes were hampered further when Chiellini was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Drogba.

But referee Undiano was then at the centre of more controversy for awarding a penalty to Juventus in the 74th minute after Belletti was adjudged to have handled a free-kick by Del Piero.

The Juve striker sent Cech the wrong way from the spot to give the Serie A side renewed hope.

But it was soon crushed by Drogba who side-footed a low cross from Belletti into the net in the 83rd minute to cap a fine night for Chelsea.

Comments