Chelsea Seize Advantage in Champions League Battle
A rejuvenated Chelsea side delivered on manager Guus Hiddink’s promise of attacking football by securing a vital 3-1 victory against Liverpool in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Anfield.
The unlikely hero on the night was Blues defender Branislav Ivanovich, who planted two headers past Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina either side of half-time to cancel out Fernando Torres’ sixth minute opener. Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba then compounded the home team’s misery by sweeping home a third after a flowing move to leave Liverpool’s qualification hopes hanging by a thread ahead of the return fixture.
The only black-spot on an otherwise perfect evening for Chelsea fans was that Blues skipper John Terry picked up a needless yellow card that will now rule him out of the second leg at Stamford Bridge on April 14. However, with Liverpool needing to score three away goals to retake the lead in the tie, Hiddink will be confident that even a makeshift defence will hold firm enough to see his Chelsea side through.
In the evening’s other quarter-final first leg, a rampant Barcelona routed Bayern Munich 4-0 at the Nou Camp as goals from Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry in the first half all-but secured their passage to the next round. Barca manager Pep Guardiola stuck with the attacking line-up that has seen his side surge clear at the top of La Liga and his decision reaped instant rewards as Messi stroked home Eto’o’s pass after just nine minutes.
He returned the favour for the Cameroon striker to power home a second three minutes later and completed his brace of goals on the night after turning in Henry’s centre on the half hour. The former Arsenal striker managed to get in on the act himself just before half-time, with Messi again the provider, to ensure that Barcelona take a comfortable lead with them to the Allianz Arena next week.