Barcelona had a trip to the UEFA Champions League Final completely gift-wrapped for them. While tied 1-1 on aggregate with Chelsea, John Terry picked up a red card. Andrés Iniesta scored a goal shortly afterward to put the Cules ahead. Then, they completely and utterly collapsed against a 10-man side. Chelsea defended superbly and pulled off two stellar counterattacking goals to draw Barcelona 2-2 at the Camp Nou, going through 3-2 on aggregate.
Chelsea surprisingly generated the first big chance of the match just 18 seconds in, foreshadowing a bit of what was to come in first-half stoppage time. Ashley Cole slotted a through ball to Ramires, who blazed past the Barcelona defense. The ball was just a touch too heavy and Victor Valdés claimed it, but the Cules' defense was out of sorts.
Gary Cahill and Gerard Pique both picked up injuries in the first half and had to exit the match. Cahill came off for Jose Bosingwa in the 12th minute after picking up a hamstring injury, and that forced Branislav Ivanovic to move to the center of defense. Later in the half, Pique clashed with Didier Drogba and Valdés, and came off with what appeared to be a head injury in the 25th minute.
The Blues defended exceptionally well for the opening 30 minutes of the game, but fell asleep immediately following a corner kick in the 33rd minute, letting Barcelona level the tie. After a clearance on the corner, Barcelona worked the ball back into the box and Isaac Cuenca set up Sergio Busquets for a tap-in, making it 1-1 on aggregate.
Four minutes later, the course of the game was completely altered when Terry picked up a straight red card for a knee to the back of the leg of Alexis Sánchez off the ball. The referee didn't see the incident, but his assistant alerted him to it and Terry was sent off for violent conduct. Just seven minutes later, Iniesta put Barca ahead, assisted by Lionel Messi, and the tie appeared to be over.
Improbably, just before the stroke of halftime, 10-man Chelsea struck on the counter. Just like in the first leg, the Barcelona defense fell asleep in first-half stoppage time as Frank Lampard played a through ball to Ramires, who beat the Barca defense with his pace. Instead of providing an assist for a teammate, he took the responsibility on himself in this instance, hitting a stunning chip over Valdés to level the tie at 2-2 and put his team ahead on away goals heading into the break.
Just after halftime, Barcelona appeared to have the tie locked up when they were granted a 48th-minute penalty. Once again, they found a way to throw away their massive advantage. Messi stepped up to the spot and hit the crossbar with his penalty effort, keeping Chelsea in front. Barcelona would have all of the possession and some decent chances before the end of the game, but that would be the team's last truly great opportunity. Or at least, their last one that counted.
The penalty seemed to be a wake-up call for the Chelsea defense, who played stunningly for the remainder of the half. Sánchez headed a Dani Alves cross over the bar in the 54th minute, Busquets skied a shot over the bar in the 78th minute and Messi hit the post in the 83rd minute, but they somehow never looked like scoring. In the 88th minute, Messi set up Sánchez for what looked like a winner, but it was flagged for offside.
In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Barcelona had a corner kick and threw everyone forward. That turned out to be a disastrous risk when the ball was cleared and booted up the pitch to Fernando Torres, who had come on as a substitute for Drogba. He got himself clear 50 yards from goal and remained composed as he dribbled into Valdés one-on-one, then rounded him and tapped it in to seal the deal for Chelsea.
Incredibly, improbably, Chelsea have scored twice against Barcelona at the Camp Nou to go through to the UEFA Champions League final after one of the most exciting Champions League games in recent memory.
You can find all of our previous live coverage from the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.