Barcelona dominated the game like they usually do. 79% of the possession versus Chelsea’s 21%, a successful pass percentage of 92% and 14 shots on goal compared to a meager 3 from Chelsea. But the one stat that determines the game stood out. The goals!
Didier Drogba’s solitary goal was Chelsea’s only shot on target and the only one that went in on the either side for the whole 90 minutes as the stubborn Chelsea defence, led by Cech in goal, frustrated Messi and Co. as they now take a one goal lead before the return fixture at Camp Nou next Tuesday.
There was luck involved as well. Sanchez’s chip hit the crossbar early on and Pedro almost pulled one back for the visitors late in injury time to only be denied by the woodwork again. But that does not take away anything from Chelsea’s defence. In the absence of Luiz, Cahill stepped up to the plate and frustrated Messi for the 90 minutes as the Argentine looked out of place at the Bridge as Roberto Di Matteo’s fairytale with the Blues continued making it ten wins out of 13.
The pattern of the match was set up early as Barcelona dominated possession and passed the ball around like a dream but were unable to get past Cech. After Sanchez hit the crossbar, Fabregas had the next best opportunity but he scuffed up his finish and Iniesta’s follow-up was easily parried away by Cech. Two minutes before halftime, Messi set up Fabregas beautifully as his chip got past Cech but was cleared away by Cole on the line. Chelsea survived, but only just!
And with the players almost mentally prepared for the halftime whistle, Lampard’s long ball found a rampaging Ramires in acres of space and the Brazilian’s low cross picked up Drogba who swept across the face of the goal beyond Valdes and into the back of the net.
The visitors were stunned as the halftime scores read 1-0.
The first half was totally dominated by Barcelona and Chelsea should have seen more of it coming in the second. Adriano’s curler was kept out by Cech before Sanchez missed from six yards after a brilliant scoop by Fabregas as the champions missed the finishing presence of David Villa. Pedro came on for Sanchez and was immediately booked for tripping Cole while Ramires and Busquets were also cautioned. Messi was particulary disappointing with his free kicks while Xavi curled one well over the bar.
Cech pulled off another magnificent save three minutes from time to deny Puyol heading in Messi’s corner as Chelsea dropped deeper and deeper as time began to run out for the visitors. Pedro almost saved Barca the blushes as he was cruelly denied by the post and Sergio Busquets skied his shot high into the sky, perfectly summing Barca’s night of chances wasted.