Drogba shows the desire for Chelsea revenge

Stoke City 1 Chelsea 1

The rage burning inside Didier Drogba as he was ushered down the tunnel by Paulo Ferreira suggested that this was no warm-up for the main event at Stamford Bridge in two days' time.

This was a match that Chelsea badly needed to win and as they strove to haul themselves past a resilient and resourceful Stoke side, one of their fans suggested that Drogba should have put the ball into the box. The striker with a boxer's build squared up to his questioner as the final whistle went and had to be led away.

Nevertheless, this was a display in which Drogba had asserted his right to start against Manchester United in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final. It was not just that he scored or beat Asmir Begovic with a beautifully-directed diving header to cancel out Jonathan Walters opener for Stoke. It was not that he struck the frame of the goal – something the home side did to Chelsea twice – but the way he seemed to be everywhere, the way he tackled back. "It was important to see him in this condition and it was important to see him score," his manager, Carlo Ancelotti, reflected. "He used his power, ability and personality."

And yet it was not a game Chelsea won and nor did they really deserve to. If they were to retain their title, Chelsea needed Manchester United to feel their breath on the back of their necks but, with seven games remaining, Sir Alex Ferguson's side can barely hear the echo of their running shoes.

However, as the United manager seeks to emulate Sir Matt Busby by winning the European Cup at Wembley, Chelsea stand before him like a vast blue wall. Ancelotti argued that this fiercely-competitive draw would have mattered only if his team had picked up injuries or played badly. They did neither.

"Whether it is the Premier League or Serie A, the performances are important to check on the condition of the team," he said. "After this game we can say the team is in good condition. We wanted to win it but the result was right and we will not lose confidence over it. The Champions League is another week, another story."

Ancelotti has reached three Champions League finals at the helm of Milan and all have involved Manchester United in some way.

In 2005 and 2007 Milan knocked them out en route to finals with Liverpool and in 2003 he lifted the European Cup at Old Trafford.

It is worth pointing out that in none of these years did Milan win Serie A. By contrast, Ferguson's three finals have all come in seasons in which Manchester United have won the Premier League.

In one of those finals, in the teeming Moscow rain, Chelsea were the beaten team, although their goalkeeper, Petr Cech, tried to argue that this somehow left no scar, not even in the heart of his captain, John Terry, who squandered the decisive penalty. "It is three years back now," he said. "They didn't really win it; they had more luck in the shoot-out than we did."

Terry would probably disagree with that assessment, neither before or since has he appeared so overwhelmed by self-inflicted hurt than within the walls of the Luzhniki Stadium.

Cech was, however, right to point out that since that night, the psychological advantage has lain squarely with the Londoners. Ferguson does not need to win at Stamford Bridge but the last time he did was nine years ago and the only survivors of that 3-0 victory are those four mud-coated veterans, Terry, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

"We will still go into Wednesday's game with confidence because our record against Manchester United, especially at home, is very good," he said. "We will not discover anything new at Old Trafford. We have played there many times and won there last season."

Fernando Torres, too, knows what it is to beat Manchester United. Of all the gold-plated carrots dangled before him was the argument that if he left Liverpool for London he would be virtually guaranteed Champions League football.

Now when the nation finally has a series of European fixtures to excite it, it hard to see why this most elegant of centre-forwards should start; certainly not on the evidence of the half an hour he was given at Stoke.

At Atletico Madrid, they called him El Nino, "The Kid", and now he resembles nothing so much as a boy with his football, looking at a game from the sidelines, wondering if he will be invited to play.

Scorers: Stoke Walters 8 Chelsea Drogba 33 Substitutes: Stoke Whitehead (Whelan, 85), Collins (Higginbotham, 90), Fuller (Pennant, 90) Chelsea Kalou 5 (Ramires, 61), Torres 5 (Anelka, 61), Ivanovic (Bosingwa, 80).

Booked: Stoke Walters

Man of the match Drogba Match rating 7/10.

Possession Stoke 48% Chelsea 52%.

Attempts on target Stoke 6 Chelsea 9

Referee P Walton (Northants) Attendance 27,508

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor