are in control
By Vasek Kadlec - Sky Sports
Petr Cech believes Chelsea are in a commanding position
at the halfway stage of their UEFA Champions League
Chelsea beat their Premiership rivals 1-0 at Stamford Bridge
on Wednesday and Cech is confident his side can finish the
job at Anfield next week.
"Although we are only halfway, the situation is very good
for us," Cech said on his personal website.
"In the first half we mainly played great football, we
controlled the game.
"It was a pity that we did not add another goal, because 2-0
would have been an ideal result, but 1-0 is a very good
result for the second leg."
Cech was largely untroubled by Liverpool's strikers, but had
to produce an excellent one-handed save from Steven Gerrard
to protect Chelsea's advantage.
"I did not see the shot much, it flew closely around John
Terry's head and I saw it very late," he recalled.
"Fortunately, I managed to react quickly. I stretched myself
as much as I could and with the tips of my fingers blocked
it outside the goal.
"It really was saved with my fingertips, with the last
Cech also admitted it was a relief to see Chelsea score for
the first time in five Champions League matches against
"When we scored I recalled it and I thought that eventually
it would not be the same situation like it had been in the
previous games as it had been usually 0-0.
"It is good that we scored."
Lamps: We relish Anfield test
By Steve Bramley - Sky Sports
Frank Lampard says Chelsea will not be intimidated when
they visit Anfield in the second leg of the UEFA Champions
Chelsea lead 1-0 from the first leg but Lampard knows The
Blues must survive another night of passion next Tuesday to
keep their final dream alive.
Two seasons ago the fanatical home support helped inspire
Liverpool to a 1-0 win over Chelsea on their way to
Champions League glory.
But Lampard insists his side will not crumble under the
intensity of another semi-final on Merseyside.
"We have to go to Anfield again. It was a great atmosphere
last time, but we were not intimidated, despite what people
have said, you should be able to enjoy atmospheres like
that," said the England midfielder.
"And we won't be intimidated by it now, we weren't last time
and we won't be this time either. If you are a top player
you should relish something like that.
"What's the problem? Liverpool's fans will be behind them,
we expect that. But all of our lads will be ready and up for
it. We should think we are going to go there and play our
"It was easy to say we were intimidated last time because
they scored early. But we have too many strong characters to
allow anyone to be intimidated."
Lampard insists his side are not looking to avenge the
controversial goal that knocked them out of the competition
"We are not motivated by revenge for what happened two years
ago at this stage at Anfield. We are motivated by wanting to
get to the final this season, it is as simple as that,"
"That is always in our minds. We are not bothered about that
goal (by Luis Garcia) any more, it's all in the past,
there's no point in talking about it."
Benitez to trust his wide boys
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Rafael Benitez is one of European football’s cagiest
Often cautious, sometimes circumspect and always pragmatic,
on Tuesday he must break with the habits of a lifetime – and
trust a couple of wide boys.
Liverpool emerged from a more open Champions League
semi-final first leg than had been anticipated with their
European dream still intact.
But despite recovering from a wretched first half to control
the second period, they struggled to eke out anything
resembling a clear goalscoring opportunity.
And they must do that at least twice next week if they are
to overcome a first leg deficit, at least without having to
resort to the nerve-shredding lottery of a penalty
The last time Chelsea lost a match was three months ago at
Anfield, when Benitez employed Jermaine Pennant and John
Arne Riise as wingers.
Both were hugely effective.
Pennant was only called on for the final seven minutes last
night, far too late to influence the outcome.
It was as if Benitez felt he couldn’t run the risk of giving
the winger his head in such a tight tactical battle, but in
fairness to the Reds boss, he might not have had much
In the words of the song: “You don’t know what you’ve got
’til it’s gone.”
And Steve Finnan, so often the unsung hero, was sorely
missed at Stamford Bridge. Aside from the attacking options
the unsung Irishman offers, if he had been available
Liverpool’s line-up might feasibly have looked very
Arbeloa would probably have played left back, Riise further
forward in left midfield – in a reprise of the formation
which troubled Barcelona so badly.
As it was, Arbeloa was asked to play right-back, Riise
dropped deeper to fill the full-back role he performs no
more than adequately – and Bolo Zenden came in for an
inadequate left flank cameo.
On several occasions the Dutchman chiselled out space with
clever shimmies or darting runs beyond his marker – but not
once did he succeed in delivering a damaging cross.
Peter Crouch was also missed. The player who did more than
most to unsettle a makeshift Chelsea rearguard at Anfield
three months ago, his height and touch was once again
ignored in favour of the pace and penetration of Craig
At least Benitez acknowledged an error when he introduced
Crouch with the second half barely seven minutes old, and
Liverpool’s performance was much improved.
But while the Reds boss was prepared to admit his
shortcomings, what of the man in the opposite dug-out? Even
by his own standards, Mourinho’s moans were bizarre.
“When the penalties are so clear, I don’t understand. I go
for the facts and it’s a fact. The penalty is a big chance
for us to be 2-0. Then it would be a completely different
game and a different story. I feel it is not fair.”
Let’s be factual then.
The penalty incident Mourinho referred to, Arbeloa’s
handball, was accidental, and took place two feet outside
the Liverpool penalty area.
Of course a similar incident in the opposite penalty box
next week will produce a cry of “handball” which would
probably be heard at Stamford Bridge. The Anfield factor
will undeniably play a part.
Jose Mourinho under-estimated the power of the Kop two years
ago. “A crowd has never scored a goal,” he sneered.
He changed his mind afterwards, when he credited Reds fans
with the assist for Luis Garcia’s matchwinner.
The Anfield crowd will need no prompting, no cheer-leading
of the cringeworthy type served up at Stamford Bridge last
But a positive, attacking line-up – with Pennant and Riise
employed from the start – could help whip up the atmosphere
to an intensity even greater than two years ago. And we all
know what happened then.
Chelsea are tiring
By Mandeep Sanghera at Stamford Bridge - BBC Sport Online
Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina believes Chelsea are feeling
the effects of their gruelling season as they challenge for
a historic Quadruple.
Chelsea beat the Reds 1-0 in their Champions League
semi-final, but Reina told BBC Sport: "In the second half, I
tell you they were tired.
"We couldn't move the ball as quick as we normally do, but
they were tired.
"They have a tough game on Saturday and maybe for the second
leg on Tuesday the legs will not be the freshest."
Liverpool travel to Portsmouth on Saturday already assured
of a Champions League place and with manager Rafael Benitez
able to rest key players.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will have no such luxury for his
side's home game against Bolton as they battle it out with
Manchester United for the Premiership crown.
The Blues are three points behind their top-flight rivals
and need a win against a Bolton side chasing a Uefa Cup
Reina hopes the strain on Chelsea will aid the Reds but says
the Anfield crowd and more potency in attack from Liverpool
will be needed to help overturn the 1-0 deficit.
The Spaniard was modest about pulling off two vital saves
from Frank Lampard to limit Chelsea to a slender lead while
seeing only Steven Gerrard go close at the other end.
"I hope the atmosphere at Anfield is going to be the most
important ever," said Reina.
"We are very confident when we play at home and we have to
show Chelsea how important it is for us.
He added: "We have to improve. We have to try to score. I
don't know which way but we have to find a solution to get a
"We beat them in the league 2-0 earlier in the season and we
can do it again."
Reds skipper Gerrard praised Reina for his two saves in the
first leg but was left ruing seeing a left-foot strike saved
by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.
"I think Chelsea edged the first half on chances and Pepe
has made a couple of good saves," said Gerrard.
"In the second, we dominated possession and pushed forward
without creating clear-cut chances.
"But their keeper has pulled off a top save from me. I don¿t
think any other keeper in Europe would have got that because
I was away celebrating."
Gerrard also echoed Reina's sentiments about the role the
Anfield crowd can play.
"I think Chelsea are happy with the result but I think they
will show us a lot of respect in the second leg," he added.
"They know this tie's not over. They have witnessed the
atmosphere at Anfield before and they know we are capable of
beating them as we showed in the Premiership this season.
"It's half-time. We would have liked a better scoreline but
we get on with it. We go into the game needing to score the
"We are confident we can hurt them a lot more at our place
with the crowd behind us. If we raise the tempo the first 20
minutes will be really interesting.
"If any fans in the world can make the roof come down it is
"We are obviously aware that Chelsea have a slight advantage
by keeping a clean sheet and getting their goal but if we
score the first goal next week it will be game on."
as plan not followed fully
Comment by Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho did his best in the
build-up – but it was Liverpool’s players who really wound
up Rafael Benitez last night.
The Chelsea manager still has the L-plates on when it comes
to driving his opposite number round the bend because no
amount of pre-match teasing is ever going to truly bother
his Liverpool counterpart.
Especially not when his own players do such a good job of it
as they did in the first half last night.
It was a performance which got to Benitez in a way Mourinho
The two European experts always have their differences but
none were more painfully obvious than when they found
themselves separated by barely the (albeit considerable)
width of a UEFA jobsworth’s head on the touchline.
Who needs a war of words when body language says so much
about the destiny of Champions League semi-finals?
Mourinho’s behaviour was as uncharacteristic as it gets –
sitting still and keeping his mouth shut. It was a smug
satisfaction that was justified in an opening 45 minutes in
which his team notched the home goal that proved fatally
elusive at the corresponding stage two years ago.
Mourinho probably doesn’t care whether Benitez rises to his
pre-match taunts or not. But he must have been ecstatic to
see him rising from the bench almost constantly to express
his dissatisfaction with events.
For his part, when Mourinho did get rattled – predictably at
Marcus Merk – he did little more than throw his arms up in
disgust. Only when objecting to a challenge from Daniel
Agger on Didier Drogba did he uncross the legs and bother to
leave his seat.
Whereas the Spaniard was lucky that the passing planes over
Stamford Bridge didn’t mistake him for a flight path
engineer and head straight for him given the amount of
frantic arm-waving on show.
Some was aimed at referee Merk for submitting too easily to
play-acting. But most was in frustration at his players’
apparent determination to dismantle his game-plan.
The scoreboard clock stopped in the 14th minute but Benitez
wanted time to be standing still from two years ago. Another
slow-paced semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge, a game
doomed to finish goalless.
But it never looked likely in those defining early stages.
Drogba was allowed to carry the ball, Claude Makelele and
Jon Obi Mikel were given time to do what they wanted with
it. And even when not controlling possession, some of
Chelsea’s most dangerous passes still came from the boots of
It’s not even that Liverpool played that badly. It’s just
that not following their manager’s instructions to the
letter is inadvisable because Chelsea can’t be allowed any
opportunity to dictate the course of the tie – and Joe
Cole’s outstretched left leg did exactly that.
He may not overstep the mark in the verbal jousting but
there was no way Benitez wasn’t going to stray furiously
from his technical area to make his point last night.
Rarely when he turned round to sit back down again had his
mood cooled, although he must have been disguising quiet
satisfaction at a second-half improvement which keeps him
firmly fixed on the path to Athens.
But before that final destination, there’s a second leg to
First thing to note is that while Liverpool must hope things
shape up better on the pitch they at least have a cast-iron
guarantee that they will have the upper hand off it. It’s
all too obvious to gush about how things are set up for one
of the great Anfield European nights. Such things go without
saying. But sometimes you get a new perspective on it and
what sharper one than Chelsea’s clumsily choreographed
cheerleading last night?
There was the flag-waving. Firstly, bizarrely enough, to the
strains of a 1998 England World Cup song and then to a limp
rendition of ‘Blue Is The Colour’ which was still drowned
out by ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ even though it was sung
without the aid of an ear-blasting PA accompaniment.
Then came the hysterical Las Vegas boxing bout-style team
announcements, by which point even the home fans were
cringing with embarrassment.
Contrived nonsense that Anfield will never need, least of
all on Tuesday.
A special, natural and unique atmosphere is something
Liverpool have that Chelsea don’t.
Unlike a goal. But since when has Benitez let little details
like that stop him fulfilling his ambitions in this
Mourinho expects Essien impact
By Alex Livie - Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho is backing Michael Essien to play a key
role in the second leg of Chelsea's UEFA Champions League
meeting with Liverpool.
The Ghanaian has been a source of inspiration for many at
Stamford Bridge this term, but he was forced to sit out
Wednesday's first leg win due to suspension.
Mourinho has waxed lyrical about the player nicknamed 'The
Bison' this term, claiming 'He can run forever and can play
a game every day'.
Essien is likely to get the chance to put his fitness levels
to the test over the course of the next week, as he will be
thrust straight back into Chelsea's Premiership battle with
Bolton before next week's second leg at Anfield.
"I hope Essien is back and plays," said Mourinho. "He will
play against Bolton on Saturday because I can then rest some
"He is an important player for us."
Mourinho had a pre-game moan about Liverpool being fresher
than Chelsea and he expects that to be the case next
He added: "In three days' time I can guess that Liverpool
plays in Portsmouth and it is not an important game for
them. So their next important game is against Chelsea next
Tuesday. But Chelsea will be in a final against Bolton on
"So again, like today, the power is not the same. But we
played very well in the first half and the players have a
dream. So we go to Anfield to try and be in the final."
Mourinho in new penalty moan
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho was left fuming about the failure to award
a penalty for the second time in four days after Chelsea
secured a priceless 1-0 win in the home leg of their UEFA
Champions League semi-final against Liverpool.
Joe Cole's first-half goal gave The Blues the edge ahead of
the second encounter at Anfield, but Mourinho emerged after
the victory to bemoan Markus Merk's decision not to give a
spot-kick for a handball by Alvaro Arbeloa.
The Portuguese had complained that his side were suffering
at the hands of Premiership referees after not being awarded
a spot-kick in Sunday's draw with Newcastle, and he extended
his complaint to Europe after the game at Stamford Bridge.
However, television replays showed that Arbeloa was well
outside of the penalty box when his hand made contact with
"I'm happy with the players, I think again the performance
was top, the first-half performance was superb," Mourinho
told Sky Sports.
"We had five or six great chances to score and the second
half was different, Liverpool attacked more but we still had
some chances on the counter-attack.
"Liverpool had one, but the one was a great shot and a great
save by Petr [Cech], but I don't understand why we don't
have penalties when the penalties are so clear, I don't
"I just go for facts, and again it is a fact. I don't think
anybody can say it was not a penalty. It was a clear
penalty, and I don't know why. It's happening, it's
happening, it's happening.
"To be fair, this season in the Champions League we have had
good referees and no problems, and to be fair to Mr Merk he
had no problems, a top class referee.
"But it is a penalty, and a penalty is a big chance for 2-0,
and 2-0 is a completely different game and a different
story, so I feel it is not fair."
Mourinho even compared the decision to Luis Garcia's
contentious goal in the meeting between the sides at the
same stage of the competition in 2005, a strike that the
Chelsea boss has described as being scored by the Anfield
"In the Champions League semi-final you have to keep your
clean sheet and get your chance in the right moment,"
"Sometimes it comes from a mistake from the opponent and
Arbeloa made a mistake, but unlucky for us it was not a
"So I hope for the game in the second leg we are not crying
and thinking again about a big decision, because two years
ago we were thinking about a big decision and now I hope we
do enough in the second half to not look back on this game."
The result gives Chelsea a narrow advantage ahead of the
second leg on Merseyside, and Mourinho appeared to be
confident about his team's chances despite his anger at the
"We are winning 1-0, it is as simple as that.
"I think Liverpool think that over 90 minutes they can turn
the result, that is normal, that is obvious, but we are
winning 1-0 and we know we have a good defensive team and a
team that normally scores a goal.
"If we go there and score a goal, we have a big chance, but
now the next days is to forget this penalty because we will
now [be] mad for 24 hours that is for sure."
Benitez: We didn't control tie
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez felt Liverpool were too open to the
counter-attack in losing 1-0 to Chelsea.
Joe Cole's first-half goal at Stamford Bridge earned The
Blues the advantage in the first leg of the UEFA Champions
Liverpool created little of note, aside from one Steven
Gerrard volley, and Benitez was unhappy that his side were
unable to dictate the game.
"I think it was two different parts today - the first half
we were not controlling, the second half a little bit
better," Benitez told Sky Sports 1.
"When you play against Chelsea you know they like to play
counter-attack and we had problems in the counter-attack,
and now we will see.
"I think you need to score just one goal and see what
happens. If we score two, as in the league, we will be
"We gave them chances on the counter-attack and we were
giving the ball away, then they were playing counter-attack.
"We were running back and we needed to be more compact. We
were not doing these things in the first half."
Benitez is now hoping the Anfield atmosphere can inspire
Liverpool to victory in the second leg next Tuesday.
He added: "I think we will have the support of our people
and we know they are really important for us.
"You could hear that today, they are always fantastic. I
hope we will feel the atmosphere behind us."
Kuyt: It will be totally different at Anfield
By Paul Rogers - LFC Official Website
Dirk Kuyt believes the Anfield crowd can inspire
Liverpool's players to overcome a first-leg 1-0 defecit when
Chelsea come to Merseyside on Tuesday night to determine
which club travels to Athens to contest the Champions League
Rafael Benitez's team were undone by a first-half strike
from Joe Cole at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and
despite failing to grab the all-important away goal that
Liverpool so desperately wanted, the Dutch hitman believes
the tie is far from over.
"It obviously isn't the result that we wanted," admitted
Kuyt after the final whistle, "but it's still only half-time
in the tie. We would have liked to have won or at least
drawn the game but the result is what it is and we just have
to make sure we score first at Anfield.
"The supporters at Anfield are very special and they won't
need any encouraging to make the atmosphere incredible on
Tuesday night. European nights at Anfield are like nothing
else and we have to make sure we produce a special result.
With the supporters behind us, we have a chance to change
Cole goal puts Blues in control
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Chelsea took the upper hand against Liverpool in the UEFA
Champions League semi-final as Joe Cole's first-half finish
won the day at Stamford Bridge.
In a match which lacked the excitement and pizzazz of the
previous evening's semi-final, Cole's first goal since his
return from injury was enough to defeat a disjointed
Liverpool, who had never before conceded against their
opponents in the Champions League.
Steven Gerrard came closest to snatching an away goal for
the 2005 winners, who will now look to replicate their 2-0
Premiership triumph at Anfield next week.
Slipping players and sloppy passes littered the opening
exchanges, with Liverpool the most guilty of the two
A stray pass from Javier Mascherano was seized upon by
Didier Drogba, but the Ivorian's blinkered run down the
centre of the pitch foundered on a swarm of red shirts.
Drogba was then involved in the game's first chance, nodding
back Ashley Cole's diagonal ball and, as Andrei Shevchenko
swivelled to shoot, Frank Lampard arrived on the scene to
smash a low shot which was superbly kept out by Jose Reina.
While Liverpool were not afraid to go forward, there was a
lack of bite about their attacking play and an error from
John Arne Riise almost gifted Chelsea another opportunity.
Drogba was quick to latch on to Riise's poor pass, but
Chelsea's top scorer was similarly awry in his attempt to
feed the unmarked Joe Cole.
Shevchenko flashed a shot across goal after Drogba won a
header on the edge of the box before the African, and Reina,
ducked the chance to meet Joe Cole's cross from the right.
All Liverpool had to show for their attacking endeavours was
a deflected Dirk Kuyt header, while Lampard's fizzing low
free-kick deflected just wide prior to Chelsea taking the
lead on 29 minutes.
Ricardo Carvalho, with hair that seems reminiscent of Franz
Beckenbauer, strolled out of defence in true Kaiser style
before playing a clever ball down the right-hand channel.
The ever-willing Drogba out-muscled Daniel Agger before
cutting into the box and laying the ball off to Joe Cole
who, despite a nudge from Alvaro Arbeloa, retained his
balance long enough to steer his shot past Reina.
Liverpool enjoyed a spell of possession before half-time,
but the only sight of goal came from Gerrard, who headed
over under pressure from Ashley Cole.
The second half started with Lampard hollering for a penalty
after the ball inadvertently struck Arbeloa's arm, but the
midfielder's pleas fell on deaf fears.
Rafa Benitez was quick to introduce Peter Crouch for the
ineffective Craig Bellamy in the second half and the giant
striker's sheer presence immediately unsettled the Chelsea
A weak clearance from Riise's long throw dropped invitingly
for Gerrard and his thumping left-foot volley was arcing
towards the bottom corner until Petr Cech thrust out a hand
to pull off a wonderful save.
The promise of the first 45 minutes was quick to evaporate
in the second 45 as Drogba was left increasingly isolated in
attack, while Liverpool were unable to muster a head of
Drogba's power continued to unsettle the Liverpool defence,
but it was a touch of finesse which opened up the visitors
10 minutes from time as his flick teed up Lampard, whose
vicious volley was pushed away by Reina at full stretch.
Chelsea seemed happy to settle for a niggly second half to
maintain the one-goal cushion which, given previous
Champions League meetings between these sides, could prove