If you had told a Chelsea fan that, after 43 minutes, they’d lose two of their starting defenders (Gary Cahill to injury and captain John Terry to an expulsion), be forced to play with 10 men for the remainder of the match (due to the Terry expulsion), and be down 2-0 to Barcelona, they’d be lying if they said that they still believed they’d advance to the UEFA Champions League Final.
Well, that was exactly the situation they found themselves in, no doubt having lost all chance of advancing after Andrés Iniesta made it 2-0 Barcelona (and 2-1 Barcelona, on aggregate). Right before the end of the half, however, Frank Lampard found Brazil’s Ramires, who floated the ball right over keeper Victor Valdés and into the back of the net. It was 2-1 Barcelona at the half, but more importantly, 2-2 aggregate, with Chelsea advancing on away goals (assuming things held steady).
Early in the second half, Chelsea committed a foul in the penalty box, giving Barça a penalty kick. The great Leo Messi would take the penalty kick for Barça… and miss. The rest of the half played out much as one would expect: Barcelona bombarding Chelsea’s goal, while The Blues just hoped to keep the ball out of the net. And they believe it or not, they did. Fernando Torres (yes, Fernando Torres) scored the insurance goal for Chelsea in the 91st minute – 2-2 Chelsea, 3-2 on aggregate. Mighty Barcelona had fallen, and Chelsea were through to the Champions League Final.
It took Real Madrid only 15 minutes to erase the 2-1 deficit from the previous week’s match in Germany. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 9th and 10th goals in Champions League play this season to put Los Blancos up 2-0, 3-2 on aggregate. But just like on Tuesday, it didn’t take long for the visitors to respond.
Following a foul by Real Madrid’s Pepe, a penalty kick by Arjen Robben went past the outstretched arms of Iker Casillas. Unlike Tuesday, however, the visitors’ response only meant that the series was tied 3-3 on aggregate, with both clubs having scored one away goal.
The second half saw legitimate chances for both teams, but both clubs tightened up their defense considerably. The aggregate score remained 3-3 at full time, meaning 30 minutes of extra time, followed by penalties if neither side could break through with a goal.
As is usually the case in extra time, fatigue means teams take few risks. Wednesday was no different; penalty kicks would decide the victor.
After Manuel Neuer saved the first two Real Madrid penalties (and Bayern made their first two), Los Blancos found themselves in a serious hole. Casillas came back to save two penalties of his own. It was 1-2 on penalties when Sergio Ramos sent his kick well over the cross bar. All Bayern Munich needed was for Bastien Schweinsteiger to punch it in for a trip to the final.
Schweinsteiger calmly scored the goal (his celebration anything but calm, understandably), sending Bayern Munich to meet Chelsea at Munich’s Allianz Arena on May 19.