The rules were simple: 5 bloggers, 4 rounds,
Courtois snake draft. I picked first, followed by Yatco, Graham, André, and Rohaan. 20 goals in total.
All goals eligible except Didier Drogba’s equalizer in the 2012 Champions League final. Too obvious.
In reverse order, these are our favorite, greatest, bestest (however each of us interpreted the rules) Chelsea goals. You will probably disagree, but you’re probably wrong.
ALEX vs. LIVERPOOL, 2009
Chelsea and Liverpool played some absolute classics in the past decade and a half, and the second leg of the 2008-09 Champions League quarterfinals is still easily one of the most memorable, most bonkers, most amazing football matches in living memory.
Alex’s goal is one of the many reasons for that.
Let’s set the stage.
It was the fifth (5th!) straight season that Chelsea and Liverpool met in the Champions League (including three semifinals!). The first leg, the week before, had already entered Chelsea lore thanks to then rarely seen and hardly known Branislav “2-Goal” Ivanović leading the Blues comeback in a 3-1 win at Anfield (Fernando Torres opened the scoring). Future interim Chelsea head coach Rafa Benítez’s Liverpool needed to score at least three times against then current interim Chelsea head coach Guus Hiddink’s Blues in the second leg, having not won at Stamford Bridge by more than a goal since 1989.
Neither captain played. Steven Gerrard was injured and John Terry was suspended thanks to a yellow card he picked up in the first leg. JT’s absence meant that Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa, a.k.a. Alex, was going to have to carry the defense as Ricardo Carvalho had been struggling with form and various injuries all season (just 18 appearances all told). Riccy C gritted through 90 minutes in this one, and would not play the rest of the season — despite avoiding certain death by mere inches. But more on that later.
The second leg was played exactly a week later, on the 14th of April, 2009, with the match moved ahead one day from its originally scheduled date to not coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
And Liverpool started in a most inspired way, scoring twice in the opening half an hour. Fábio Aurélio caught out Petr Čech at the near post with a cheeky free kick — everyone was expecting a cross! — and Xabi Alonso scored from the spot after first leg hero Ivanović hauled him down in the area. The visitors took the 2-0 lead into half-time. Chelsea still led on away goals, but were distinctly second best in the first 45 minutes. Something had to change.
That something came courtesy of Pepe Reina, who inexplicably palmed a nothing shot from Didier Drogba into his own net soon after the restart. Less than five minutes later, up stepped Alex. And we all know what happened next.
Fun fact about Alex: he was born two weeks before me and is about my height.
Key difference between the two of us: he can kick a ball a lot harder than I can.
A couple minutes prior, Didier Drogba had taken a free kick from a nearly identical position and blasted just wide of the goal. Alex kept his howitzer trained right on target.
Alex played 134 times for Chelsea and scored 11 goals. But he’s remembered only for his free kicks, several of which were identically hilarious as they rocketed into the back of the net. The one against Arsenal the following year springs to mind as another classic example of the Hit It Very Hard school of free-kicking for Raid Leaders.
You could play spot the difference between these two goals. This one’s two yards closer ... aaand that’s about it.
What truly separates the two (other than the occasion), is the aforementioned presence Ricardo Carvalho.
Against Arsenal, the shot flies through a hole vacated by Florent Malouda. He times his spin out from and behind the wall to perfection, leaving no time for anyone to close ranks.
Malouda was undoubtedly aware of how close Carvalho had come to an early grave 18 months prior. Watch it again — this blurry video is the best I could do for this angle — and if you’ve never looked for it before, watch what Carvalho does.
Drogba and Riccy are running interference, but get so caught up in their own shenanigans, that they barely notice Alex starting his run-up. And they surely know what’s coming.
Drogba skidaddles safely out of the way, but Carvalho’s still doing his mock appeals to the referee. Then he notices Didier moving out of the corner of his eye. “Ohhhh shhhhhiiiirt”, he must’ve thought.
Riccy C, who wasn’t even supposed to be here today, was about to get a face-full of highly engineered leather moving at ludicrous speed.
He barely makes it. Literal inches. Literal milliseconds.
I think it’s actually this moment that makes this goal so incredibly legendary for me.
Love the part where Carvalho then jumps up immediately and joins in the celebrations. Life affirmed after a near death experience.
All eleven players except Čech made one big pile to celebrate the equalizer on the night.
The match itself wasn’t quite done with its madness just yet either. After Alex brought the house down, Lampard made it 3-2 on the night with 15 minutes to go, and that surely was that for the visitors.
But then two goals in quick succession, from Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt made it 4-3 Liverpool on the night, and suddenly they were just one goal away from advancing!
Fortunately, the late goal that was scored this time came courtesy of the current head coach once again, with Super Frank setting the super final score in the final minutes at 4-4, 7-5 on aggregate.
Okay one more time, with emotion.