Chelsea Vs. Napoli, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Blues Battle Through To Quarterfinals

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.

For more on the Blues, head over to Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History and The Offside Chelsea. For more on the Azzurri, head over to The Offside Napoli.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.