It ends a draw in Spain. It shouldn't have. Not by a long-shot. More, after the jump:
"Fernando, meet the pitch. You'll be spending loads of time down here tonight..."
Well, that was about as bad as you can play over a 10 minute stretch now isn't it? After bossing the majority of the match, taking the lead behind a peach of a Frank Lampard strike from just outside the box, Villas Boas got it all wrong with his substitutions and ultimately cost us a win. Replacing Frank, who was in good form mind you, with a low-on-confidence/looking-like-a-forlorn-puppy Kalou was foolish. Brazen, perhaps. But this was not the only mistake incurred on a night that should have tilted our way from the onset. Nay, this was the final error in an otherwise forgettable night that featured a litany of missed chances, some brilliant saves by both keepers, a few close calls, physical play, defensive lapses, and yeah, that damn penalty. I don't have the stomach to recall the first 80 minutes, particularly the first 45- which were about as drab as possible. So I'll try and make this as concise as possible...
- Nando should have scored in the third minute, but overcooked his touch.
- He should have appealed for a penalty, as replays show Rami bundled into his back without making a touch on the ball.
- Nando fell down.
- Ruiz should have gotten a red for pulling back Ramires after beating the back line. He didn't.
- Nando fell down, again.
- We controlled the first ten minutes, until Valencia settled back in and began controlling possession.
- Nando fell down, again. This time he throws his arms out in disgust.
- Someone, in that vast expanse of a stadium, decided it would be high comedy to shine a laser pointer at Fernando.
- Yep, Nando hit the deck one more time, again trying to get past a defender on the one-touch. You can surmise the result.
- Everything comes to life in the 51st minute. Bosingwa crosses for Torres who hits a bullet header but is well-saved by Alves.
- Alves makes three remarkable saves in the space of two minutes. He's class.
- Lampard finds the net in the 56th minute. Vindication all around. Trademark Frankie strike from just outside the box.
- Chelsea continue forward in attack, Meireles comes on to replace Ramires, who picked up a knock in the first half.
- Valencia and Chelsea continue at each other on the counter, both sides electing to leave the field of play wide-open.
- Nelks replaces Fernando, who deserved a full 90 for his excellent work in the second half. Plus, what the hell else is he doing for a month?
- Petr was massive, making great saves all over the park, catching stinging shots, and parrying a few tricky shots to danger.
- Malouda fails to put the game to bed, after shooting meekly into the outstretched arms of Alves. Damn him.
- 83rd minute, better known as the part when SHIT GETS REAL.
- Lamps comes off, and, inexplicably, Kalou comes on? No Didier?
- Kalou's first touch of the ball results in handing a shot to Jonas who curls one close enough to pull Cech into action.
- Then, the corner. Then, the goal. Then, the humiliation- for Kalou.
- Nelks manages a crafty counter attack, but once again Alves comes up with the stop. For fucks sake!
- Extra time, extra time, extra time. Nothing of note.
- Then, madness. The cards come flying. Mata gets a yellow after the whistle for throwing the ball away, Malouda gets one just before the end for a soft challenge in the box, and Cole gets one while storming off the pitch in mid-tirade. Drogba pats him on the head on the way out as if to say "you've learned well son, you've learned well..."
So basically, we played hard for 86 minutes and then everything sort of collapsed. We lost our composure. I can't even bring myself to look at the stats nor the passing charts just yet.
Some gigantic saves. Great reflexes and did an excellent job either catching or parrying shots. Controlled his lines. Could do nothing about the penalty. 7.5
Well, his crossing was better, but his defensive positioning is worrisome. Caught out a handful of times when Canales would drift left. Banega abused him on one particular sequence. 6
A tale of two half's. Tried to get forward in the first, but was stifled. Played a more traditional defensive role in the second, and was very competent. Tends to make the usual rash challenge each game. But, I love his aggression. 6.5
Did his thing, but didn't overwhelm, much like the rest of the defense. But, he did keep everyone in check going into the dying embers, when everything looked close to imploding. 6.5
Well, he got forward as best as he could, but got caught out a handful of times, drifting inside instead of protecting the wing. 6.5
John Obi Mikel
A virtual spectator. I get that he doesn't really get forward that much, but his lateral, backward passing instinct is starting to slow down the attack. But, I'm not going to crucify him for one week performance. 6
Hey now, that's what I call redemption. Shut the critics up with a well-struck shot from just outside the box for the only goal in Blue. Picked out several great passes and did his job in the middle. Expect him to start this weekend. 7
The usual foraging runs, but the usual poor finishing. But, credit to Alves for his Superman impression between the sticks. Did his thing in the tackle today, which I'd like to see more and more of. Quietly, he seems to be blossoming into a wonderful midfielder. 6.5
One to forget. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was a touch too emotional. But regardless, this was his worst stint in Blue. Didn't get enough of the ball, mind, but still failed to have an impact. 6
As much as I like to slag him, he did work hard for the team. But his finishing (like everyone else today) was off. 6
Tough departing for a month after that showcase. Spent more time on the ground or waving his arms in protest then on his feet in the first. Improved in the second with some well placed runs, dribbles, headers, and shots. Unlucky not to have scored the opener. 6.5
Came in to spell Torres in the second half. Almost scored with a lovely strike but was befuddled by Alves. 5.5
Replaced Meireles after the knock in the first. 5.5
There are no words. -2.5