I'm back with my 2nd edition of recapping an important and memorable day in the history of Chelsea Football Club. A few comments were in support of me continuing to do these and so I will on a daily basis. This one for today is from not too long ago and I think we all know what it is. Here goes.
Chelsea draws with Barcelona 2-2 in the Nou Camp and advances to the Champions League Final 3-2 on Aggregate - April 24, 2012
Captivating. Heart-breaking. Exciting. Thrilling. Nervous. Despondent. Overjoyed. On the verge of tears for many reasons. Praying. Enthralling. Spine tingling.
All those emotions went in to that game vs Barcelona this time last year. Chelsea had pulled off a shocker. They beat Barcelona 1-0 at The Bridge in the 1st leg. Halfway home. Another 90 minutes awaited though. In the Lion's Den. The Nou Camp. 99,000 strong. A roaring atmosphere. Chelsea were up against a team that had been christened "The Greatest Team Of All Time".
Chelsea started off under siege. Barcelona pressing forward. Consistently. Vociferously. The Nou Camp wanted a goal. Chelsea was doing their damnedest not to let them get it. Messi missed a chance. Cech made saves. Barcelona kept coming. Minutes later, finally the wall broke down. Alves fed Busquets on the doorstep and he converted. 1-0 Barcelona. Then, the unthinkable. John Terry, captain, leader, legend, Mr Chelsea....was sent off. Kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back. A sending off, yes but Sanchez made a meal of it. Barca kept coming. Chelsea were rattled. Their captain sent off and down 1-0 in minutes. Just like that it was 2-0. Messi dispossessed the Blues and fed Iniesta who rolled it past Cech. 2-0 Barcelona, Chelsea with only 10 men. It looked over. Just like that though and something happened. Lampard again made a key dispossession and fed the ball into the path of Ramires on one of his patented midfield surges. He was in alone with Valdes. He does the unthinkable. He goes to chip it over the goalkeeper. One chance, one moment. Chelsea's tournament hung by a thread. And he pulls it off. Up, over Valdes, and in. 2-1. Chelsea were through on away goals as it stood. Onto the Second Half.
The Second Half started terribly. Didier Drogba conceded a penalty to Cesc Fabregas. Messi was up for it. Big game, big moment, the best player in the world, so many goals scored all season long. It was a formality. He was scoring. Then something again happened. He hit the bar. Chelsea cleared. You started wondering. "What is happening?" Barca missed more chances. Sanchez missed a free header, Cech denied Cuenca from close range, Messi hit the post from 20 yards with fingertips from Cech, Mascherano forced a save from Cech. Barcelona kept pushing. Chelsea sent on Fernando Torres. As Barcelona kept on pushing they had almost EVERYONE in the Chelsea half. Ashley Cole got one clearance just right and it found Fernando Torres in the clear. At the halfway line. Onside. In on his own. He crept in. Closer. Closer. This was the defining moment. Could he repay that 50M pound pricetag? Out comes Valdes. Torres rounds him. It's coming. It rolls on each blade of Camp Nou grass, no one to stop it, it rolls into the back of the net. The small pocket of Chelsea fans are on Cloud Nine. Torres collapses to the pitch in relief and success and passion. The Chelsea players swarm to join him. They've done it. All their work, their effort, their blocks, clears, it came to this moment. They had conquered their biggest challenge. Having to beat Valencia on the last matchday to go through didn't match up, coming down from 3-1 against Napoli...didn't match up. This was their greatest night. Chelsea's greatest night. 2-2. 3-2 on aggregate. In the Nou Camp. Vs Barcelona. The greatest team to ever live. Vanquished. The Blue flag waved high above Catalonia that night...and the world. Onto Munich. It would turn out to be into the lions den once more. Another chance at glory in Europe. An impossible task. For that time though they rejoiced in doing one Mission Impossible. The Blue Flag Kept on Flying High.