After The Match 


Chelsea-Liverpool 1-0 (1-0)        25.4. 07                           CL
Goals: J Cole (29)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Zenden, Bellamy, Kuyt
Subs: Crouch (Bellamy 51), Pennant (Alonso 82)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Sissoko, Paletta
Yellow: Mascherano (77)
Red: None
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)
Shots on target: 4-4
Shots off target: 9-8
Blocked shots: 1-1
Possession: 45.5-54.5
Fouls conceded: 9-19
Corners: 1-5
Offsides: 5-2
Yellow: 0-1
HEADLINES "...if we score the first goal next week
it will be
game on."

   Steven Gerrard

2604: Cech: We are in control
2604: Lamps: We relish Anfield test
2604: Time for Benitez to trust his wide boys
2604: Reina believes Chelsea are tiring
2604: Frustration as plan not followed fully
2604: Mourinho expects Essien impact
2504: Mourinho in new penalty moan
2504: Benitez: We didn't control tie
2504: Kuyt: It will be totally different at Anfield
2504: Cole goal puts Blues in control

Cech: We 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 semi-final
with Liverpool.

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 knuckle-bones."

Cech also admitted it was a relief to see Chelsea score for the first time in five Champions League matches against Liverpool.

"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 League semi-final.

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 football.

"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 in 2005.

"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," added Lampard.

"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."

Time for Benitez to trust his wide boys

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Rafael Benitez is one of European football’s cagiest thinkers.

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 shoot-out.

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 option.

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 different.

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 Bellamy.

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 night.

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.

Reina believes 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 berth.

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 goal.

"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 first goal.

"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 certainly ours.

"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."

Frustration 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 never could.

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 Liverpool players.

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 negotiate.

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 competition?

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 players.

"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 Tuesday.

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 Saturday.

"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 the ball.

"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 understand.

"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 crowd.

"In the Champions League semi-final you have to keep your clean sheet and get your chance in the right moment," Mourinho added.

"Sometimes it comes from a mistake from the opponent and Arbeloa made a mistake, but unlucky for us it was not a penalty.

"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 penalty decision.

"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 League semi-final.

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 there.

"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 final.

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 this result."

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 combatants.

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 defence.

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 steam.

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 crucial.

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