Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta broke Chelsea’s hearts last night when he blasted in an injury-time goal at Stamford Bridge last night, which was enough to ensure they went safely through to the Champions League final.
The Spanish international’s goal left a silence reverberating around the Bridge where some Chelsea fans had already started celebrating a win. It was the Catalan club’s first shot on target. The dramatic equaliser was enough to cancel out Michael Essien’s stunning ninth-minute opener and put Barcelona through on away goals. Guss Hiddink’s side had managed to hold Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at home, a feat that no team has done so far this season. And after the Essien goal put them ahead, and Petr Cech had not had to make a save by the 90th minute Chelsea, it seemed had the final in the bag.
Barcelona lacked their usual fluency as Chelsea swamped midfield and fiercely defended their goal, and were unlucky not to win first-half penalties when Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba both appeared to be hauled down in the Barcelona box. Barcelona were reduced to ten men when Eric Adibal was harshly sent off for fouling Nicolas Anelka. And after Iniesta’s goal Michael Ballack desperately appealed to the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo for a penalty when his shot hit Samuel Eto’o in the penalty area.
When the final whistle was blown the Blues were naturally devastated, and after dressing down Ovrebo, Didier Drogba launched himself wildly at the TV cameras unleashing a four-letter outburst over the refereeing. Drogba now faces a lengthy ban from UEFA competitions.
“I can fully understand Didier’s reaction — full of emotion, full of adrenalin,” Hiddink said. “People say he should be in control. The time a player goes beyond emotion to start hitting, that’s wrong, but I can fully understand his emotion. I will protect him.”
Barcelona will now go on to face Manchester United in Rome on May 27.