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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Champions League, Chelsea 2-1 Porto

Ballack finally delivers to send Chelsea into last eight

Michael Ballack's late strike put Chelsea into the last eight of the Champions League after they came from behind to beat Porto.

Chelsea were on their way out after falling behind to Ricardo Quaresma's first half strike, but Ballack capped an impressive fightback as Chelsea scraped through their second round tie 3-2 on aggregate. Arjen Robben cancelled out Quaresma's goal early in the second half and German international Ballack won it with a fine effort 11 minutes from full-time.

Ballack has been well below his best since his pre-season move from Bayern Munich, but he was signed by Mourinho for important European nights like this and finally showed why he is regarded as one of the world's leading midfielders.

Porto took the lead after just 15 minutes when a slick move ended with Quaresma poking the ball under the body of the outstretched Petr Cech after picking up Lucho Gonzalez's pass.

Thereafter, at least for the rest of the half, Porto looked in control and it seemed only a mistake or a moment of brilliance would affect their position.

As it happened, it was a mistake. And what a howler it was at the start of the second half.

Robben, who picked up a yellow card for diving early in the half, received the ball on the right and cut inside before firing in a relatively tame shot that keeper Heldon got a hand to, but not a strong enough one as the ball looped into the net. Chelsea pressed for a winner and sent in a number of teasing crosses testing the Porto shot-stopper, who looked a little jittery after his error.

However, it was not an error that handed Chelsea their much-valued win but a well-worked move that saw Didier Drogba nod Ashley Cole's centre on to the head of Shevchenko who in turn found Ballack.

Ballack steadied himself, swivelled and fired a low volley from six yards past Heldon and into the quarter finals. Chelsea will discover on Friday who they are paired with in the last eight.

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Ferreira 65), Essien, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Makelele (Mikel 46), Robben, Ballack, Lampard, Shevchenko (Kalou 84), Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Hilario, Boulahrouz, Bridge, Wright-Phillips.

Booked: Robben, Diarra.

Goals: Robben 48, Ballack 79.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Cech (Ibson 55), Gonzalez, Ricardo Costa, Paulo Assuncao, Raul Meireles (Adriano 55), Lopez (Bruno Moraes 82), Quaresma.
Subs Not Used: Vitor Baia, Alan, Postiga, Joao Paulo.

Booked: Quaresma, Fucile, Adriano.

Goals: Quaresma 15.

Champions league Chelsea 2-1 Porto extended highlights and goals: