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Chelsea Hold Barcelona to Nou Camp Champions League blank

Premier League side Chelsea produced a spirited defensive display to hold Spanish giants Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp and will now take the slenderest of advantages into the return fixture at Stamford Bridge next week.

The hosts, who have been in free-scoring form all season, put on another master-class of passing football, but for all their possession failed to create more than a handful of clear-cut chances as Chelsea’s well-drilled defence stood firm.

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry stung the palms of Blues ‘keeper Petr Cech in the first half, but the Spanish side were mostly reduced to shooting from distance as the home fans’ frustration grew at the visitors’ negative approach to the game.

Chelsea, for their part, were content to sit back and stifle Barcelona’s attack, but they almost snatched the lead with their only attempt on goal after Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba cut in to intercept Rafael Marquez’s awful back-pass.

Buoyed by their sudden involvement in the game, Chelsea again had the chance to secure a vital away goal at the start of the second half when German midfielder Michael Ballack headed wide from Drogba’s free-kick. However, normal service soon resumed for the home side as an off-form Lionel Messi shot over and Daniel Alves and Samuel Eto’o both saw their efforts well saved by Cech.

With the Barca fans becoming increasingly incensed after a serious injury to Marquez and a booking to influential captain Carles Puyol - who will now be suspended for the return leg – young Spanish striker Bojan spurned the hosts’ best chance of the game after nodding tamely over from two yards out.

Having seen his side become the first team to keep a clean sheet at the Nou Camp this season, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink will no doubt be looking for a more attack-minded performance when the two sides resume rivalries at Stamford Bridge on May 6.

Duncan Wilkie
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