Didier Drogba left Stamford Bridge stadium a hero last night, after his goal helped Chelsea defeat heavy favourites Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Many had ruled Chelsea out of overcoming the Barcelona threat, but in the dying seconds of the first half aging striker Drogba slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 1 – 0. Barcelona and their fans, flying in from Spain presumably under the assumption that they would witness their club take another easy victory, were shocked at what they had just witnessed.
With Barcelona having 72% of the possession and making 24 attempts on goal compared to Chelsea's 5 it will surely be a bitter loss for Pep Guardiola's squad, but despite Barca's superior control of the ball the Chelsea defence, led by an indomitable Ashley Cole, managed to fend off any advances made by Messi & co. in order to take the victory.
Maintaining their 1 – 0 lead wasn't easy though, as Barcelona remained threatening right up until the last few minutes, when a deflection off the post following a shot from Pedro saw Sergio Busquets faced with an open goal. However, Busquets couldn't connect with the ball accurately enough, sending it flying over the crossbar much to the away fans' dismay.
But despite Barcelona's continuous pressurising of keeper Petr Cech, who remained a brick wall in front of goal, it was Drogba's left foot that ensured victory for the blues. Although many have criticised his apparent inability to stay on his feet during the game (with Barcelona's Puyol seemingly more frustrated with the striker than anyone), his ability to clean up in the 8-yard-box should never be underestimated and, if not the prettiest of footballers, he can certainly still get the job done despite his age.
However, Chelsea's victory has now angered those in the Barcelona camp, with Andres Iniesta saying after the match: "The result is unjust but we knew that Chelsea are a team that take advantage of their opportunities."
Iniesta then insisted that his team would come good in the return leg at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium, saying: "We have confidence in our ability to overturn today's scoreline."
Chelsea have remained Barcelona's tighest rivals in Europe, with Barca failing to defeat the Londoners in their past six games together – this includes three draws at Camp Nou, a stadium which has seen the Spaniards record 27 out of 30 wins and no defeats this season.
Petr Cech recognised Barcelona's inability to defeat the Blues at their home ground, saying: "We've done well in the past there and need to reproduce the same kind of performance that we did and like we have before.
"It will be really important to score an away goal as well but we seem always to score there and, hopefully, we can replicate that."