A moment of magic by Ronaldinho
handed Barcelona a well-deserved place in the Champions League quarter-finals
after they drew 1-1 with Chelsea in their last 16 second leg match and a 3-2
victory on aggregate.
It was revenge for last year's 5-4 aggregate defeat by the Premiership champions
and left Liverpool as the only English side to have ever beaten the Catalan
giants at home and that was 30 years ago.
Ronaldinho's sixth goal in seven Champions League matches came just over 10
minutes from time while Chelsea got a generously awarded penalty in stoppage
time as Giovanni van Bronckhorst was adjudged to have fouled John Terry though
it looked as if he had got the ball.
Frank Lampard slotted home the penalty but it was all to no avail as the referee
blew the final whistle almost immediately.
"The best team did not win," said Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who should have
had little cause for complaint as his side had never really threatened to pull
off the victory.
"Eleven against 11 we would have won (he said referring to the sending-off of
Chelsea's Asier del Horno in the first leg).
"The first leg we lost a player and we had to come here 2-1 down. If we had a
bit of luck and scored before the last minute it could have changed us mentally
and it would have been different."
Mourinho even had a go at the referee Markus Merk.
"As it was after the penalty the referee did not play another second."
Barca's veteran Swedish striker Henrik Larsson said Chelsea had played well but
there was no doubt who deserved to progress.
"We showed we were the better side for the two legs," said the 34-year-old.
"We tried to play our normal game and try and not give them too much space
behind us as they are quality players.
"We tried to fill the gaps. I think in the first-half we had everything under
control and it meant as time went on we were even more in control."
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who was sent-off in the match in Barcelona last
year, had a glorious chance to open the score in the 20th minute but he directed
his header tamely into the hands of Victor Valdes.
The Ivorian striker had not been too far away 10 minutes earlier from getting to
a delightful cross by Joe Cole but it flew inches over his head.
Chelsea's physical tactics had an effect on the more elegant style of the
Barcelona side and in the end it did for Lionel Messi who pulled up with an
injured hamstring after a foul by William Gallas and had to be replaced by
The muscular Gallas was fortunate not to be called for a penalty after barging
over Ronaldinho just before the half hour mark but in truth Barca had yet to
test Petr Cech.
Carvalho - whose controversial holding of the Barca 'keeper last year resulted
in Chelsea's decisive goal - could also have been penalised for a penalty after
dragging Edmilson to the ground inside the penalty area.
However it was Valdes who was again tested as Arjen Robben cut in from the right
in the 38th minute but the Barca keeper got down well to save his shot and not
to let it rebound into the path of Drogba.
Chelsea again went close a minute from the end of the first-half as Terry won
the ball in the air and Cole produced an inspired overhead lob which beat Valdes
but landed on top of the net.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho made a double switch in the 59th minute bringing
on Eidur Gudjohnsen and Hernan Crespo for Drogba and Damien Duff.
However it was Barca who were on target shortly after that as Samuel Eto'o at
last got a shot in that forced Cech to beat it away and Terry headed it to
Crespo nearly made a dramatic entrance as on the hour Cole's expertly directed
cross was met by the Argentinian at the near post but his shot trickled wide.
Chelsea could not come up with anything like the magic produced by Ronaldinho
with just over 10 minutes to go as the Brazilian shrugged off Lampard, made a
fool of Terry and Carvalho and shot past Peter Cech to seal the Londoners fate.
Eto'o came agonisingly close to making it 2-0 five minutes from time when he
slipped past Paulo Ferreira and cut inside but while his shot beat Cech it
scraped past the far post.