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Chelsea's old guard of players don't appear ready to fade off into the sunset. Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba were brilliant for Chelsea and had a part in the goals that have seen them through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Gökhan Inler delayed their victory until extra time, but Branislav Ivanovic fired Chelsea through in the second half, and they are moving on with a 4-1 win on the night and a 5-4 aggregate victory.
It was obvious from the very beginning that it was going to be a tough task for Napoli to hold onto their lead. Chelsea were on the front foot from the start and Morgan De Sanctis was forced into multiple saves in the opening minutes. Chelsea's aggression led to gaps behind their midfield, however, and Napoli took advantage with some of their trademark lightning quick counter attacks. Petr Cech was forced to answer De Sanctis with a couple saves of his own in the opening 30 minutes.
Chelsea took a 1-0 lead on the night into halftime, thanks to Didier Drogba's 28th minute goal. Ramires drifted out to the left flank and hit a great in-swinging cross to the center of the box, which Drogba anticipated brilliantly. He cut in from the right and lost Salvatore Aronica before rising up and heading into the back of the net, cutting Napoli's aggregate lead to one goal.
It took just two minutes of play in the second half for Chelsea to take the lead in the tie on away goals. John Terry netted with a header, powering in a great pacy corner kick from Frank Lampard to make it 3-3. Incredibly, Napoli reclaimed the aggregate lead just seven minutes later on an absolute stunner by Inler, who controlled an Andrea Dossena ball with his chest and powered a half-volley into the back of the net at Cech's near post.
Chelsea looked like forcing extra time in the ensuing minutes, but did not find the aggregate equalizer until the 75th minute. It was, in some way, gifted to them. Dossena handled the ball on a header by Branislav Ivanovic, causing referee Felix Brych to point to the spot. Lampard stepped up and converted, leveling the tie at 4-4 and on away goals. Both teams had plenty of chances to score in the final 15 minutes of regulation, but improbably failed to do so.
Ivanovic's winner came at the very end of the first half of extra time, following a set piece opportunity. The initial delivery by Lampard was poor and Chelsea's second ball into the box wasn't much better, but they regained possession and kept their defenders forward in the penalty area. Drogba set it up with a brilliant cutback and Ivanovic finished into the roof of the net.
During the second period of extra time, Chelsea looked much more likely to put the match away with another goal than Napoli looked to score. It was as if Ivanovic's strike made everyone remember how tired they were, and the Azzurri appeared to lose their previously spectacular pace going forward. Chelsea didn't score another goal, but they didn't need it.
The Blues are the last team to qualify for the quarterfinals, and they await Friday's draw.
The first period of extra time was an even affair, but Chelsea have struck at the very end to take a 4-1 lead on the night and a 5-4 aggregate lead. With 15 minutes remaining in extra time, Chelsea have the advantage over Napoli and will be going through if this score holds.
Branislav Ivanovic scored the goal, and it was a brilliant one. The move started for Chelsea with a set piece that was taken poorly by Frank Lampard, and the second ball in was no good either. The third attempt at getting the ball into the box was a charm, and Ivanovic finished brilliantly.
Because goals scored in extra time still count as away goals and the away goals tiebreaker is still in effect, this game cannot go to penalty kicks. If Napoli scores to make it 5-5 or if the match ends with any level scoreline (does anyone think 7-7 is impossible?), they will progress on away goals.
A 1-1 draw at CSKA Moscow in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie might not have impressed many people (most of which don't watch the Russian Premier League and know how good CSKA is), but it did put them in a good position going to the second leg. They got to head back to the Bernabeu needing any sort of win to advance, which surely would not be a problem, and it wasn't. Madrid easily disposed of CSKA, 4-1, in the second leg to grab a 5-2 win on aggregate and book their spot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
It took 26 minutes for Madrid to get on the scoreboard, but when they finally did, they did it in style. Marcelo started the move with a good pass to Sami Khedira on the right side of the box, but the great pass came from the German, who floated a brilliant ball for Kaka on the other side of the box. Kaka then crossed in front, where both Gonzalo Higuain and Ronaldo were waiting for the simple finish. It was Higuain who got there first, knocking the ball home and giving the home side a 1-0 lead.
CSKA's starting goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, missed the match due to injury so Sergey Chepchugov got the nod in goal, and that proved to be a problem after the break when Cristiano Ronaldo let rip from distance. The shot skipped in front of goal and Chepchugov horribly misplayed the ball, allowing a shot that he should have saved easily to get past him for Madrid's second.
That 2-0 lead became a 3-0 lead 15 minutes later when Karim Benzema was played in all alone on goal. Chepchugov came rushing out to make a good save on Benzema's initial shot, but he couldn't control the rebound and Benzema knocked his second chance into the net for another Madrid goal.
CSKA did show some life late and Zoran Tosic a bit of brilliance with a great cutback and rocket off the underside of the bar and in for CSKA's lone goal, but it was far from enough. Ronaldo added a second goal just for good measure late on and Madrid were deservedly through to the quarterfinals.
Coming into the second leg of this UEFA Champions League tie, a 3-1 Chelsea win always felt like a plausible result. "Wouldn't it be great if we got more than 180 minutes of football out of this tie?", everyone who is not a fan of Chelsea or Napoli probably thought to themselves at one point. That hypothetical large group of people that I just invented has their wish. To follow up a 3-1 Napoli win at Stadio San Paolo, Chelsea have won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. With the tie even 4-4 and even on away goals, it heads to extra time.
Didier Drogba scored the opening goal in the 28th minute, and Chelsea went into the locker room up 1-0. It didn't take long for them to take the lead on away goals, with John Terry heading in a corner kick goal in the 47th minute. Gökhan Inler answered with an absolute stunner in the 54th minute, but Napoli gave away a 75th minute penalty with an Andrea Dossena handball that Frank Lampard scored to level things up and force another 30 minutes of play.
The final 10 minutes were frantic, with both teams having plenty of chances to net a winner, but to no avail. It would be quite stunning if both of these these teams found a way to not score or concede for the next 30 minutes and force penalties.
If the current score holds at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea and Napoli are heading to extra time in what is already the best UEFA Champions League tie of the Round of 16, even before we know how it concludes. Chelsea lead 3-1 on the night after 75 minutes, which is the exact score that Napoli won by in the first leg. This most recent goal was a penalty, converted by Frank Lampard.
Branislav Ivanovic 'drew' the spot kick on a corner kick, and it was a blatantly obvious one. He rose up to head Lampard's corner and Andrea Dossena blocked his header with a handball. Luckily for him, it wasn't the kind of handball that constituted denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, so we're still 11-on-11. The referee pointed to the spot and Lampard converted. It's 4-4 on aggregate.
Just a reminder: Fernando Torres is on the pitch. He can undo all of his wrongs with one goal!
John Terry scored for Chelsea in the 47th minute to make it 2-0 on the night to the Blues and 3-3 on aggregate, seeing Chelsea through to the final if it stood. This, at the time, seemed to be extremely problematic for Napoli. They are a team that thrives on punishing teams on the counter. They want their opponents to push bodies forward and play a high defensive line. When teams put players behind the ball and sit deep, they struggle to score more than their goal totals might suggest. With the lead on a tiebreaker, Chelsea could have done just that.
If Roberto Di Matteo was going to change his team's tactics, Chelsea didn't have any time to settle into them. Just seven minutes after Terry's header, Gökhan Inler struck with an absolutely spectacular half-volley, and Napoli are back in front on aggregate, 4-3.
Andrea Dossena, in the game for the injured Christian Maggio, "set up" the goal for Inler and will be credited with the assist. The setup was just as much Inler's as the finish, though, though the finish was certainly the best part of the goal. From 20 yards out, he controlled, then struck a vicious shot past Petr Cech at the near post. Supposedly, goalkeepers aren't supposed to concede at the near post, but this one wasn't Cech's fault at all.
Chelsea have gotten off to a perfect start in the second half, and as things stand at Stamford Bridge, they are going through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. The Blues' old guard has them on top of Napoli 2-0 on the night, and the tie is locked up at 3-3 on aggregate. Because of Chelsea's away goal, they are ahead in the tie.
Didier Drogba netted the first goal in the first half and the second has come by way of John Terry -- or England's Brave John Terry, as the meme requires me to state. He headed in an absolutely fantastic corner kick by Frank Lampard to put his team in front.
This is very bad news for Napoli, and not just because they're currently not going through. They struggle to score when their opposition isn't giving them space to counter into.
It's taken a while, but Real have slowly taken more control of the their round of 16 knockout tie with CSKA Moscow. The Russian side threatened early on, with Seydou Doumbia spooning over Iker Casillas' crossbar after a brilliant counter attack featuring 6 passes down the right hand side. Real grew into the match, and should've been ahead after Cristiano Ronaldo collected a misplaced pass in the midfield, outran the CSKA defence to the byline before cutting back for Kaka, who fired who shot into the side netting. The breakthrough goal, though, wasn't far from coming. It finally came after 26 minutes, and was a brilliant team goal. Sami Khedira was found on the right of the penalty box by Marcelo, and he floated a brilliant cross for Kaka on the left, who slid a pass across the box, where Gonzalo Higuain and Ronaldo were waiting. Higuain duly tapped it in with Igor Akinfeev utterly beaten.
Real have continued to assert their dominance, and a second goal that would surely put the tie to bed isn't far off. CSKA Moscow are playing a high line with little pressure, and although they've caught Higuain offside 4 times,Xabi Alonso has picked out Marcelo making dangerous forward runs on multiple occasions. Mesut Ozil and Kaka are beginning to overrun the CSKA midfield, with the former doing brilliantly to beat 3 defenders, before his low cross missed Higuain, Kaka and Ronaldo.
Real, though, will have to be wary about CSKA on the break. Doumbia has been a threat to Pepe and Sergio Ramos, and his pass fed Ahemd Musa on the right, who's hard shot was palmed over the bar by Casillas. Real should go through, but if they aren't careful, CSKA could get the all-important away goal.
Chelsea are up 1-0 on Napoli on the night, meaning they are behind by just one goal on aggregate. Because of their away goal, if they turn their 3-2 defect into a 3-3 tie, they will be the team advancing to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Napoli have done plenty of counter-attacking and have forced a couple of saves, but Chelsea are well on top. We present, side by side, the reactions of Roberto Di Matteo and Walter Mazzarri to proceedings thus far.
The goal came in the 28th minute, with Didier Drogba heading in a fantastic cross by Ramires. That goal probably wasn't even the best chance of the half for Chelsea. They were absolutely brilliant going forward, and they were kept out of the net for the rest of the half due to a combination of poor finishing, great goalkeeping and bad luck. This chance, at the very end of the half, is a rare instance of all three at the same time.
If Napoli can't finish one of their counter-attacking chances, they are going to have to defend very, very well over the next 45 minutes. They are generally not very good at doing that, so they should probably try to score a goal. Just a protip from a proper football expert.
Welcome to Episode 268 of "Adventures in Fielding a Back Three With Salvatore Aronica in It"! Chelsea have a 1-0 lead on the night against Napoli, and they trail the Azzurri 3-2 in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 series. As a reminder, Chelsea lost the away leg 3-1, and will lead the tie on away goals if they go up 2-0 on the night.
Chelsea have been on top throughout the first half and their play very much deserved a goal, even though they've been hit back on the counter a couple of times. A pair of Petr Cech saves kept them in control of the game early and they've capitalized through Didier Drogba in the 28th minute. Ramires provided the assist, swinging in a great cross from the left flank towards the center of the box. Aronica was marking Drogba and lost him as the Ivorian cut into the center from the right, getting onto the cross before powering a brilliant header into the back of the net.
Whatever Roberto Di Matteo has his players doing, it's working. They look like a team that is determined to overturn their bad result in Naples, and they could have more goals than they do. Napoli are still looking dangerous on the counter, but Walter Mazzarri will be praying his team doesn't concede again before halftime.
Real Madrid is fielding an unchanged team from the one that beat Real Betis on the weekend, as Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema are still not fit to start for the team. Both Mesut Özil and Kaka play for Los Merengues, while Gonzalo Higuain plays up top. CSKA Moscow has left Keisuke Honda out of their team, keeping their attacking band of three of Ahmed Musa, Zoran Tosic and Alan Dzagoev intact.
Real Madrid Lineup (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso; Özil, Kaka, Ronaldo; Higuain
CSKA Moscow Lineup (4-2-3-1): Chepchugov; Schennikov, A. Berezutski, V. Berezutski, Ignashevich; Aldonin, Wernbloom; Musa, Dzagoev, Tosic; Doumbia
Kickoff is at 3:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local time from the Santiago Bernabeu. You can catch the game on FOX Soccer Plus in the USA, Sportsnet World in Canada and Sky Sports 2 in the UK.
For more on the Los Blancos, head over to Managing Madrid.
Roberto Di Matteo isn't going with any kind of trickery or changing up his system to account for specific matchup concerns against Napoli. He's just playing his normal team. Christian Maggio enthusiasts, celebrate! This appears to be a pretty standard 4-2-3-1 with Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata on either side of Frank Lampard. Walter Mazzarri has picked his normal team in his normal 3-4-2-1.
Chelsea Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech; Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic; Essien, Ramires; Mata, Lampard, Sturridge; Drogba
Napoli Lineup (3-4-2-1): De Sanctis; Aronica, Cannavaro, Campagnaro; Zuñiga, Gargano, Inler, Maggio; Lavezzi, Hamsik; Cavani
Kickoff is at 3:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local time from Stamford Bridge. You can catch the game on FOX Soccer Channel in the USA, Sportsnet regional affiliates in Canada and ITV1 in the UK.
Real Madrid take on CSKA Moscow at the Santiago Bernabeu after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. The smart money is, of course, on Jose Mourinho's side.
Chelsea needs to, at the very least, win by two goals while allowing Napoli to score no more than once if they want to keep their UEFA Champions League campaign alive.
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