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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Champions League, Valencia 1-2 Chelsea (agg 2-3)

Chelsea steal it at very death!
A 90th minute strike from Michael Essien stunned Valencia at the Mestalla and secured Chelsea a 2-1 win as they progressed to the Champions League semi-final. The Blues had gone down to a 32nd minute goal from Fernando Morientes, but Andriy Shevchenko equalised seven minutes into the second half.

Chelsea had looked dead and buried in the first half when Fernando Morientes had given Valencia a 2-1 aggregate lead. But Andriy Shevchenko levelled and then Essien's last-gasp winner put Chelsea in dreamland.

Valencia made the better start to the game, but having failed to snatch an early goal they looked happy to sit back and soak up Chelsea pressure. The visitors had chances early on, as Ricardo Carvalho and Shevchenko both nodded wide and Ballack's powerful header was saved by Canizares.

Morientes, who had missed the opening leg in London because of a shoulder injury, was clearly determined to set up a semi-final meeting with his former club Liverpool. He was thwarted from giving the home side the lead in the 31st minute when he smashed a cross from David Silva against Petr Cech's right-hand upright.

But Morientes prevailed a minute later when he escaped his marker to volley home a superbly-delivered right-wing cross from Valencia full-back Luis Miguel. The goal put Valencia ahead on aggregate but Chelsea could still save themselves by getting on the scoresheet.

Chelsea's lack of width was immediately addressed with Mourinho switching to 4-3-3 by moving Essien to right-back and introducing Joe Cole. The impact was instant. Cole and Didier Drogba linked perfectly and Chelsea played much further forward. Seven minutes after half-time Drogba met Essien's cross and, although Luis Miguel and Roberto Ayala crowded out the striker, the ball fell for Shevchenko to stab past CaƱizares from close range.
Valencia's back line began to creak, with possession presented back to Drogba in the 66th minute although the Ivorian scuffed his shot and CaƱizares made a comfortable save.

Valencia substitute Miguel Angel Angulo wasted a good chance when he shot wide of the target as the Spanish side pressed for the goal that would give them victory. The Spanish side had Canizares to thank for keeping them in the game in the 84th minute when he produced a sensational one-handed save to keep out a header from Ballack.

But Essien put Chelsea into the semi-finals with a glorious angled drive in the 91st minute.

Valencia: Canizares, Miguel, Ayala, Moretti, Del Horno, Joaquin, Albelda, Albiol (Hugo Viana 72), Silva, Morientes (Angulo 65), Villa.
Subs Not Used: Butelle, Jorge Lopez, Curro Torres, Nacho Insa, Pallardo.

Booked: Del Horno, Albelda, Ayala, Moretti.

Goals: Morientes 32.

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Joe Cole 46), Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard (Makelele 90), Ballack, Shevchenko (Kalou 90), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bridge, Ferreira, Wright-Phillips.

Booked: Essien, Ballack.

Goals: Shevchenko 52, Essien 90.

Champions league, Valencia 1-2 Chelsea full highlights: