Liverpool v. Chelsea: A Minute-By-Minute Report
Preview: Chelsea come into this match with the knowledge that even a 2-0 loss at the hands of their rivals will see them through to the semifinals. How's that for confidence? Liverpool must score at least three times if they are to have any chance of advancing. The won't be confident of such a result, as Chelsea have only surrendered three goals on three separate occasions this season.
Yes, that includes all competitions.
Still, you can expect Liverpool to come out on the attack. With their domestic hopes dimming by the week, Europe remains a viable option for trophies. At least, it did until they let Chelsea trample them at Anfield last week.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea, with Chelsea going through 4-3 on aggregate.
Pre-match coverage: I'm watching the game on ESPN2, who shows at least four Heineken commercials with the UEFA Champions League anthem every time they cut away for ads. Oh, they're also showing highlights from the 2005 title game. No Steven Gerrard tonight, though.
Liverpool: Reina, Torres, Fabio Aurelio, Xabi Alonso, Skrtel, Carragher, Arbeloa, Lucas, Mascherano, Benayoun, Kuyt
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Essien, Carvalho, Lampard, Drogba, Malouda, Kalou, Ballack, Alex
1 min: Liverpool with the kick, going from left to right. After about four seconds, they hoof it out into touch. Promising start, that.
2 min: A terrible mistake by Alex almost leads to a great chance for Liverpool. Almost. His touch took the ball about 15 yards away from his feet, and Liverpool almost gained possession 20 yards from goal with no defenders to bother them.
4 min: ESPN has neglected to provide either a scoreboard or clock, so I've just been guessing on the times. Ah, there we go. Somebody must have been asleep.
6 min: A milestone for Liverpool tonight, their 300th match in European competition. It seems like a great many of those matches have come in the last five years. A couple of appearances in the final, seemingly in the semi- or quarterfinals every other year. Meanwhile, Didier Drogba goes down, rolls off the pitch, and ends up back on the pitch so as to disrupt play.
9 min: Liverpool are moving the ball well enough through the middle of the pitch, but as soon as they attempt to make a move towards the Chelsea goal, they lose their touch. If you're a Liverpool fan, they're showing a disturbing lack of urgency.
11 min: Malouda commits a foul about 35 yards from the Chelsea goal. Fabio Aurelio sends in the free kick, and Petr Cech manages a week clearance amidst a crowd of Liverpool attackers.
13 min: Benayoun with a great flick to Torres, who accurately tucks his shot into the fifth row of the stands. Great scoring opportunity there, Torres really should have finished that one.
14 min: Meanwhile on the other end of the pitch, Frank Lampard lines up a free kick and misses the post by six inches at most. Pepe Reina got lucky there. If that had been a foot right, Lampard would have added to Liverpool's misery.
16 min: Derek Rae lays some serious truth on us. In the history of European competition, 151 teams have lost the first leg of a tie 3-1. Only four have managed to advance. Liverpool have a free kick in a great position though.
17 min: The Liverpool free kick was taken very poorly. The ball was out on the wing near the corner flag, and it ended up sailing over everybody's head. Yet another wasted opportunity.
19 min: GOOOOOAAAALLLLLLL! Fabio Aurelio steps up to another free kick from 35 yards out, and scores from a beautiful piece of deception. Every Liverpool attacker was lined up by the far post, drawing Petr Cech's attention. Aurelio decided to fire a curling shot towards the near post and Cech was too slow to get there. 1-0 to Liverpool.
21 min: Javier Mascherano briefly engages Michael Ballack in a game of hockey, hip-checking him to the ground. Right in front of the official. At what point did Mascherano think he could get away with that?
22 min: Chelsea seem to be panicking just a little bit. Their clearances lack conviction and Liverpool has been able to get in pretty good position in the offensive third. The Reds are also dominating the possession, with 64 percent of it so far.
24 min: Dirk Kuyt plays perhaps the poorest ball I've ever seen, out to the left wing. It would have been a great ball if there had been a Liverpool player within 30 yards of it. The Chelsea fans celebrate by launching into "Seven Nation Army" by the Whitestripes.
26 min: Torres to Benayoun 10 yards from goal. The ball ends up in Cech's hands as Liverpool appeal for an illegal backpass. They might have a legitimate complaint.
27 min: Aurelio steps up to another free kick, great placement, but there's a whistle. Penalty kick to Liverpool! Ivanovic dragged Alonso down in the box, and Alonso steps up to the spot.
28 min: GOOOOOAAAALLLLLLL! Alonso powers home the penalty kick as Liverpool takes a 2-0 lead. Chelsea are ahead only on away goals now, and what an exciting match this one is becoming.
30 min: In an attempt to perhaps make up for conceding a penalty kick, Ivanovic takes a dive in the Liverpool box. No dice. His dive is followed by an Essien dive about 30 yards from goal, but this time the referee buys it.
32 min: Lampard fires the free kick directly into the feet of a Liverpool defender. The ball bounces around outside of the area, and Chelsea win a corner. Reina punches clear and Liverpool counter, winning a corner of their own.
34 min: Chelsea is now on the attack as the pace of this game continues to pick up. As the Liverpool defense clears, Nicolas Anelka is preparing to enter the fray.
36 min: Chelsea substitution. Anelka on, Kalou off. Had Kalou even contributed one positive thing in his 35 minutes today? I can't think of one. Corner to Chelsea as Xabi Alonso heads clear.
37 min: Lampard swings in another free kick, and Pepe Reina immediately pounces on it. Chelsea have look a little more confident in the last five minutes. They're getting forward and attempting to win back control of the tie.
39 min: Frank Lampard is a lot like Dwyane Wade today. Not the carrying his team to glory part, but the flinging himself into defenders and falling down a lot part.
41 min: We've got our first booking of the night, as Benayoun brushes Anelka's heels, causing Anelka to writhe around on the ground, presumably from two blown out Achilles' tendons. Oh, he's fine.
44 min: Both teams have played a very physical first half. We've heard a lot of whistles. Carvalho concedes a corner, which Fabio Aurelio plays a little long. No worries, Drogba concedes another.
45 min: Alonso takes this corner, which is low and dangerous. The ball rebounds out to the wing and is crossed in towards Kuyt, who forces a good save from Cech. The ball comes back into the box once again, and Cech whiffs completely. Torres really should have made it 3-0 right there. Instead, he commits a foul.
Liverpool have played remarkably well in the first half despite being without Steven Gerrard. One more goal and they'll feel very confident about their chances of advancing.
Chelsea have looked completely lost. They improved a little bit towards the end of the half but still seem shaky on the ball. The defense has looked totally inept and in all honesty, Chelsea should feel lucky to only be down 2-0. Torres has missed a couple of great chances.
In Munich, Bayern only have 45 minutes to score four goals. Right now, they looked like they'll be dumped out by Barcelona, who led 4-0 after the first leg.
46 min: And the second half is underway! Chelsea begin with possession and immediately win a free kick. I have to wonder what Guus Hiddink told them in the dressing room. Can't imagine it was too pleasant.
47 min: Petr Cech makes another mistake! He makes an attempt to run out and clear a ball, but is just a step slow. Liverpool had an empty net but couldn't capitalize. Ashley Cole appears to touch the ball before it goes out, but the ref awards a goal kick. Perhaps out of pity.
48 min: Carvalho slips and nearly gives up a breakaway chance to Liverpool. I didn't think it was possible, but Chelsea has come out even worse than they did in the first half. If Liverpool keeps up the pressure, they will get a third goal. Whether the goal is created by Liverpool brilliance or a Chelsea howler remains to be seen.
51 min: GOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!! Instead of a Chelsea mistake, it's a Liverpool one! Pepe Reina deflects the Nicolas Anelka cross into his own net. It should have been an easy one for him to collect, but instead he's left with egg on his face. Liverpool aren't out though. A 3-1 victory would be enough to force extra time.
52 min: Replays show that Drogba got a slight touch to the Anelka cross. They also show that if Reina hadn't touched it, the ball would have gone wide of the far post. That's got to be soul-crushing for Liverpool.
55 min: Frank Ribery has given Bayern Munich a 1-0 lead. 4-1 on aggregate, then. Back at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool concedes a free kick in a very dangerous position. Another Chelsea goal here could end it.
57 min: GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!! And it's all over for Liverpool. Alex smashes the free kick home, a very impressive strike from about 30 yards out. Shades of Roberto Carlos there. And now Liverpool must score twice more if they hope to advance.
61 min: Liverpool look desperate now as Chelsea win another free kick. Was it a dive? Probably. Lampard and Alex are over it. Alex crushes the shot right into the wall. It looked painful and sounded worse.
63 min: Liverpool just spent the last two minutes hammering hopeful crosses into the box. They've lost all of their momentum though.
64 min: Hang on just a minute. A long Mascherano shot forces a good save from Cech. Benayoun can't put the rebound home, but Liverpool will fight to the end, it seems.
67 min: Drogba breaks out behind the Liverpool defense and centers for Michael Ballack, who shoots right at Reina. He must have been hoping for another huge mistake by the Liverpool keeper.
70 min: Liverpool substitution. Riera on, Mascherano off. Torres takes a long just wide of the post. Nearly a 3-2 game there.
72 min: Not content to sit back and defend, Chelsea has been attempting to get out on the break. Liverpool look like they spent all of their energy building up the 2-0 advantage.
76 min: GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!! Frank Lampard ends it for good. Liverpool can't clear the ball and Drogba crosses to a wide open Lampard, sitting right at the edge of the six-yard box. Reina had no chance.
78 min: The Liverpool fans in attendance look like they're about to throw up. Quite frankly, I can't blame them. Liverpool had a great chance to throw the knockout punch, and instead they've given up three goals in the second half. Now Chelsea are hunting for a fourth after Lucas and Drogba collide.
79 min: Ballack sends the free kick wide. It was never really close. Liverpool sub. Torres off, N'gog on.
81 min: GOOOOOAAAALLLLLL!!!! We're tied at three goals apiece. Lucas launches a hopeful shot that deflects off Michael Essien's shoulder. Is there a slight glimmer of hope for Liverpool? They still need two more, so, probably not.
83 min: GOOOOOAAALLLLLLLLLL!!! A great cross from Riera finds Dirk Kuyt's forehead, and now Liverpool just need one more as they find themselves up 4-3. What an ending!
84 min: And a near miss by Drogba! The ball comes to his feet 15 yards from goal, but his momentum is carrying both his body and his shot away from goal. Ryan Babel is preparing to come into the game.
85 min: Liverpool sub. Arbeloa off, Babel on. Five minutes plus stoppage time to make his mark.
87 min: Chelsea continue to push forward, and Lampard earns a corner. A gutsy strategy, as Liverpool could quite easily catch them on a counter. Alonso feeds Babel as the Reds push forward, earning a deep throw.
89 min: GOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLL!!!! Lampard scores what surely must be the goal that clinches it for Chelsea. His shot hits both posts before finding the back of the net. We're tied at four and the adrenaline is pumping at both ends.
90 min: N'gog with a great shot! Cech is out of the play so N'gog fires on target, but Michael Essien dives in and saves the day for Chelsea. Three minutes of stoppage time, but I don't think it'll be enough.
90+2 min: Drogba is writhing on the ground, apparently unhappy with his sock. He didn't take any punishment that would have resulted in injury, so this must be grooming-related.
90+3 min: A last-gasp corner for Liverpool. Alonso takes it and Chelsea manages a strong clearance. That's it. A valiant effort by Liverpool will now come to an end.
Full time: If you'd told Rafa Benitez that his side would score four times tonight, he would have felt supremely confident about their chances. Instead, he witnessed Chelsea match his side blow for blow. Liverpool will now be forced to watch the rest of the tournament on television.
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