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Friday, May 18, 2012

Chelsea’s Road to UEFA Champions League Final

Top Drog
The final of the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League, the world’s biggest and most watched club football competition, takes center stage this Saturday night. Chelsea who have never won the competition travel to the Allianz Arena in Munich to face hosts Bayern Munich who will be hoping that home advantage will give them their fourth title.

Here, we take a look at how the Londoners got to the finals of Europe’s premier club football competition.

Group Stages – Chelsea were drawn in Group E which also had German side Bayer Leverkusen, Spain’s Valencia and Belgian outfit KRC Genk who squeezed into the group stages after beating Israeli side Maccabi Haifa 4-1 on penalties in the playoff rounds.

Chelsea 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen, September 13 2011
Chelsea’s first match of the 2011-12 Champions League season was at Stamford Bridge. After a scoreless first half, David Luiz put the London side ahead in the 67th minute and Juan Mata ensured that the Blues took the three points with a second in the 92nd minute.

Valencia 1-1 Chelsea, September 28 2011
Chelsea’s next game was at the Estadio Mestalla. Frank Lampard’s strike in the 56th minute looked to have secured the points for Andre Villas-Boas’ side but Salomon Kalou handed the hosts a penalty 3 minutes before the final whistle. Roberto Soldado never erred from 12-yards sending Petr Cech the wrong way to ensure the group favourites shared the spoils.

Chelsea 5-0 Genk, October 19 2011
Chelsea were on song right from the whistle against the group minnows and they went ahead courtesy of Raul Meireles eight minutes into the game. Fernando Torres then scored a brace before Branislav Ivanovic added Chelsea’s fourth 3 minutes before the interval. Salomon Kalou completed the rout in the 72nd minute.


Genk 1-1 Chelsea, November 2 2011
The 5-0 rout was still fresh in the minds of many fans as Chelsea travelled to Cristal Arena to face the Belgian side. Ramires put the Blues ahead after 26 minutes but that’s as far as they went as Jelle Vosen hit the equalizer at the hour mark to earn Genk an unlikely 1-1 draw.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Chelsea, November 23 2011
Not for the umpteenth time, Chelsea were the first to score through Didier Drogba three minutes into the second half. However, the Germans rallied back to snatch the three points with Eren Derdiyok’s 73rd minute goal drawing them level before former German international Manuel Friedrich got the Bay Arena into a frenzy with a winner right at the death.

Chelsea 3-0 Valencia, December 7 2011
This was a winner takes all match. Chelsea, just like Valencia, needed to win to ensure qualification to the knockout stages. Big-game man Didier Drogba struck twice either side of Ramires’ 22nd minute goal to not only send the Blues to the last 16 for the ninth consecutive season but they also topped the group ahead of Bayer Leverkusen.

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Round of 16 – Chelsea’s top of the group finish earned them a date with Napoli who finished runners up to Group A winners Bayern Munich.

Napoli 3-1 Chelsea, February 21 2012
The first leg of the round of 16 was played at Stadio San Paolo in Naples. Chelsea opened the scoring through Juan Mata after 27 minutes but Ezequiel Lavezzi’s 38th minute stunning strike restored parity. Edinson Cavani added the second for the Partenopei just before the interval and Lavezzi completed the comeback in the 65th minute as Napoli won 3-1 and looked like they had booked their place in the quarters.

Chelsea 3-0 Napoli, March 14 2012
Chelsea went into the second leg encounter under the tutelage of caretaker manager Roberto Di Mateo after Andre Villas Boas was sacked. The Blues’ chances had been written off but by the time Didier Drogba headed them in front around the half hour mark and John Terry doubled lead 2 minutes into the second half, the Blues felt they achieve the seemingly impossible. But Gokhan Inler pulled one back for the Azzurri in the 55th minute to put them back in the driving seat. Lampard however had the last word in normal time converting a 75th minute penalty to make it 4-4 in aggregate and take the game to extra time.

Branislav Ivanovic was the only player to score in extra time as his 105th minute strike sent the Blues to the quarters with a 5-4 aggregate win.

Quarter-Final - Chelsea were drawn against Portuguese giants Benfica

Chelsea 1-0 Benfica, April 6 2012
Chelsea made the long trip to Estadio da Luz in Lisbon for the first leg quarterfinal encounter. Salomon Kalou scored the only goal fifteen minutes from time as the Di Mateo’s rejuvenated side earned their first away win in the competition.

Chelsea 2-1 Benfica, April 4 2012
Frank Lampard’s penalty in the 21st minute put Chelsea in the driving seat but Javier Garcia pulled one back for Benfica with five minutes to go. However, in the 93rd minute, Raul Meireles completed a superb Chelsea counter attack with a goal that put the result beyond doubt as the London side booked a place in the semi-finals for the sixth time in nine seasons.
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Semi-finals

Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, April 18 2012
The seventh fixture between the two teams ended with joy for Chelsea and despair for the defending champions. Didier Drogba continued with his remarkable scoring run against the Catalans as the Ivorian scored in added time of the first half to give the Blues a 1-0 win heading into the second leg at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, April 24 2012
Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta looked like they had secured the Blaugrana a second successive final but Ramires’ delicate chip over Victor Valdez just before half time gave Chelsea a priceless away goal heading into the second half. After the interval, Barca pressed but were unable to breach the Blues defence and add to their two goals in spite of having a one-man advantage. Fernando Torres ensured Chelsea’s qualification for the May 19 finals only for the second time in the club’s history with a 92nd minute strike as the game ended 2-2 on the night and 3-2 aggregate in favour of the English side as the defending champions were dethroned.

Finals
Bayern Munich v Chelsea, Saturday May 19 2012 at Allianz Arena in Munich

Chelsea will be without Ramires, Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanović and captain John Terry who have been suspended for picking two yellow cards from the semifinals.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!