UCL Rewind: 10-man Chelsea survives to stun Barcelona, reach final

Chelsea (Getty Images)

El Clasico might have taken place at Camp Nou on Saturday, but a true classic unfolded there Tuesday.

Despite being reduced to 10 men in the first half and facing a deficit, Chelsea stunned Barcelona to advance to the UEFA Champions League final after a 2-2 draw (3-2 win on aggregate). Fernando Torres scored on a late breakaway to clinch the unlikely result, which included Lionel Messi missing a penalty that would have given Barcelona the aggregate lead early in the second half, and John Terry being sent off with a straight red in the first half for violent conduct.

Barcelona looked to be going through to the final in the first half when Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta scored to put the home side up 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate. However, Ramires scored with a deft chip just before halftime to give Chelsea back the advantage on away goals. Much of the game played out as most expected, with Barcelona holding much of the possession and Chelsea defending deep. The home side had 83 percent of the possession by game's end, but the defending champions could not break down Chelsea's organization in the back.

Chelsea advance to their second Champions League final in four years where they will face either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. The German side holds a slight 2-1 edge after the opening leg.

Here is a look back at a wild night in Barcelona:

The first 30 minutes were somewhat predictable as Barcelona camped outside Chelsea's box and created several quality chances, the best of which came when Messi hit the side netting in the third minute. Petr Cech stoned Messi 15 minutes later when the Argentinian was in on goal. Chelsea lost centerback Gary Cahill to an injury while Gerard Pique was taken out of the game with a head injury after a wicked collision with Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

The game sparked into life after 35 minutes when Barcelona finally had their breakthrough. Cuenca was allowed through down Chelsea's left flank and fired the ball into the box where Busquets was waiting to turn it in from close range. Barely two minutes later, Terry was shown a red card for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back well off the ball. 

The game appeared in Barcelona's control in the 44th minute, when Iniesta received a pass from Messi and slotted his shot past Cech. However, Chelsea retook the aggregate lead soon after when Ramires ran onto a great ball from Frank Lampard and chipped Valdes in first-half stoppage time.

Barcelona should have retaken the lead just after halftime when Drogba was whistled for a foul on Cesc Fabregas inside the box, but Messi, who has never scored against Chelsea, clanged the penalty kick off the crossbar in the 49th minute. Barcelona then resumed their encampment outside the Chelsea penalty area but had trouble breaking through the congestion. Even Drogba was back in defense, at times playing fullback.

Sergio Busquets had Barcelona's first real opportunity after Messi's penalty kick when he skied his close-range shot in the 77th minute. Barcelona abandoned all semblance of a defense in the final 10 minutes and were almost rewarded, but Cech touched Messi's shot onto the post in the 83rd minute.

Eventually, even an exhausted and short-handed Chelsea were able to take advantage of Barcelona's all-out attack, as in injury time, the much-maligned Torres latched on to a deep clearance and sprinted more than half the field, rounded Valdes, and coolly sent Chelsea into the final.


What did you think of today's game? Were Chelsea worthy winners? Should Barcelona have scored? Does Chelsea have a chance in the final?

Share your thoughts below.

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93 Responses to UCL Rewind: 10-man Chelsea survives to stun Barcelona, reach final

  1. Spank says:

    Wooooooo! Up yours Barca!

  2. ec says:

    That was an all time classic game and exactly the reason why I cut work to watch CL! Very happy for Fernando Torres, loved him at Liverpool and felt horrible for how wrong his career had gone.

    The most underrated moment in world soccer this year? When David Villa went down in the club world cup with a broken leg. Barca need to get back to a team, with wingers and forwards, instead of tossing out 10 midfielders and passing it around to death.

  3. Jason says:

    Merieles Ivanovic Ramires and Terry out for final…. maybe even Cahill…. big task ahead.

  4. BSU SC says:


  5. Northzax says:

    Well played, professional match by everyone in blue not currently facing criminal racism charges. Chelsea learned from Manchester United’s folly last year at Wembley. You cannot run and gun with Barca. With the right discipline and luck, you can bunker and counter successfully. Di Matteo wasn’t going to try and play to Barca’s strength, only Sir Alex was that proud. This is what great clubs do, instead of trying to beat you at your game, they make you beat them at theirs. Great win.

  6. GW says:

    Well, maybe those of you who think penalties are cheap and easy goals to pad your total need to re- think that.

    Does Chelsea have anyone eligible to play in the final?

  7. Spectra says:

    No I still think they’re much easier than other goals.

  8. Dillon says:

    Barcelona are terrified of shooting from outside the 18 yard box.

  9. Raymon says:

    Terry just “explained” his card. He essentially said “I am not THAT kind of player, who would hurt someone intentionally. But since I was caught on camera, I will accept it. Sorry to the lads and the fans.”

  10. JoeL says:

    To say this has been a bad week for Barca, it’s an understatement.

  11. Poo says:

    wonderful considering how likeable chelsea are

  12. PTM says:

    Amazing work by Chelsea’s 10 men. Well earned.

    Barca didn’t have their normal zip in their passes, but all credit to Chelsea(Except for Terry. You stay classy, John.) as they had a lot to do with that.

    Barca need another tall central defender. Puyol is on his last legs. Forget Neymar, go get Thiago Silva from Milan. I still can’t believe they let Yaya Toure go. He was a force at d-mid.

    I thought, even after he rounded Valdes, that Torres was going to fall down and miss.

  13. ec says:

    Also the week where Messi lost his cool. He’s looked all out of sorts and frustrated, I thought it was a very bad sign when he shoved Lampard.

  14. madrid says:

    yes, Barcelona lost today and its true that Barcelona sucks at shooting from outside the 18 yard box. you cannot play at Barcelona strengths or you will loose. if not tell Manchester united that. first, defend the hell out of yourself. second, have a big time target forward like drogba or Torres. finally, just waste time and kill the clock. It’s almost like football lol.

  15. ec says:

    Also amazing that Chelsea could win with almost no contribution from Juan Mata.

  16. Northzax says:

    No, they just let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and they have the best one on one player in the world to lean on. They seem to want to make every goal look easy, pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-dink. Sometimes you have to get, er, messy, and they’re usually such a well-oiled machine, they don’t seem to have that ability. They’re beautiful, but I think they’re so used to dominance, and messi bailing them out, they don’t has anyone else to force a win.

  17. John says:

    Funny how the analyst on Fox Espanol say this win isn not deserved by Chelsea, that they are the anti football and that Barcelona is god. These guys make me sick, the point in a competition is to win and advance at any cost, nothing else matters. These clowns need to give Chelsea credit where its due.

  18. Drew says:

    He is that kind of player, is the funny thing. Does everyone know this but him?

  19. GW says:

    Tell that to Messi or for that matter John Terry.

  20. A.S. says:

    As a Chelsea fan, I’m ecstatic. But, really, THIS Chelsea team might be the one to actually win Champions League??? Really??? This is demonstably the worst Chelsea team since before Jose arrived – heck, they probably won’t even qualify for next year’s tournament. I’m amazed.

  21. AcidBurn says:

    Guess Messi can’t do it on a warm spring night in Barcelona either. *zing*

  22. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    Are you saying that penalties are more difficult to score than other goals?

  23. ted says:

    I was simple amazed at how little football was actually played in the course of this match, and not just chelsea, if barca think 80% of ineffective possession the right way to play the beautiful game well heres your reality check. Besides the flash points i was entralled by how little actually happened on the pitch, i thought there was no way nothing could continue to happen for so long- the strangest excitment ive had watching soccer

  24. divers suck says:

    Chelsea isn’t likeable.

  25. sailor says:

    Terry should be benched for the rest of the season. Why do coaches/managers put up with such behavior?

  26. divers suck says:

    Ahh, love that “it’s not breaking the law until I get caught on camera” attitude from John Terry.

  27. Illmatic74 says:

    Because he is a great defender.

  28. Illmatic74 says:

    Not the result to mention this but, Xavi completed 169 passes tonight.

  29. robert daniels says:

    Yes that’s the joke divers…

  30. sailor says:

    Shrug. A great defender would not have done what Terry did. I guess my question is can managers curb such behavior? Or is it not worth it for managers to discipline violence?

  31. brownnips says:

    He always seemed impervious. It’s as if he knew they weren’t going to win the Liga or the CL.

  32. GTV says:

    Best CL drama since LFC came back from 0-3 to beat Milan in the final.

  33. AT says:

    Agreed…they seemed to have to lack
    belief in the match against
    Levante, even before losing
    to Real Madrid.

  34. PD says:

    Think about this question (especially once the media gets going with the “end of an era” story line) when was the last time back-to-back losses had such a devastating effect for a team’s prospect? Within the span of 3 weeks Barca have seen their La Liga and CL campaigns end and during these last three weeks they have lost two matches and tied one. In context they’ve lost I think 6 games all season (6 out of I think 60 matches thus far).

    The last time Barca suffered back-to-back losses was July 2011 (in a friendly tournament. Not in CL, not in La Liga). Bayern and Real Madrid have no-back-to-back-loss streaks that extend further back then that. Chelsea suffered back-to-back losses in November, but that was under Villa-Boas.

    Just goes to show how this is real high-stakes stuff. The margin of error is just insane.

  35. PD says:

    I agree. I just don’t understand why this guy wears the armband… unless it’s ’cause the other players know what he’s capable of it they cross him.

    Seriously though, I get that Terry is arguably one of the most effective modern center-backs to play the game, and I get that this is a contact sport and that playing any advantage helps, but I think what many of his critics (myself included) find so maddening is that in spite of his skill and intelligence there are times where he simply makes dirty choices and he’s more talented than that. It’s cut from the same cloth that makes a striker like Suarez so distasteful.

  36. AllPrimatesLoveBananasPudding says:

    you know those Germans will certainly be cheering for Chelsea if they play real madrid. i heard the germans hate the spanish

  37. PD says:

    I think Terry will wear Groucho glasses and line up as a second striker.

    Honestly though, they’ve got some major mojo playing on their side ride now.

    But If I’m Real Madrid and Bayern Munich I’m licking my lips over this final matchup.

  38. Rich says:

    With no tall Barca player in the middle, Chelsea could just clog it up in the middle. Just what they did last week and what RM did on the weekend. Even Levante did the same sort of thing the weekend before.

    Barca need someone who cna head the ball into the net.

    I say they go out and get Deuce!

  39. MF says:

    So what….I’m so tired of these completed passes stat and possession stats. The point of Football is to get that round object past the goalie. It nice to see a team pass around the ball without losing it. But playing the ball between your Mids and Defenders isn’t as pretty as many have been dooped into believing. I just don’t see the point in having to pass 20 times in succession when you could have easily gotten the goal by just countering with 3 or 4 passes. The only stats the matters is pointing it in the back of the net. Barcelona is a ball hogging team. And the only way to play a ball hog giving them the ball and try to get it back while hitting them on the counter.

    Barcelona lost because they can’t play any other way. A good team can change their gameplan on the fly or make modifications to their lineup for certain occasions. But I guess Barca isn’t allowed to question Tiki Taka.

  40. AT says:

    Yes, and defenders, too. Marquez,
    Milito, Caceres, Chygrynskiy all
    let go with no replacements, and
    Adriano, La Masia
    kids like Fontas and Muniesa,
    and Busquets and Mascherano
    are not the answer.

  41. roger says:

    Big Daddy Torres!!!

  42. ANM says:

    What’s so wonderful about this result is not just the fantastic game of football it turned out to be, but also that it possessed a perfect moral equilibrium. Here were my thoughts going in.

    1. Chelsea. Ewww, don’t like them.
    2. But Roberto DiMatteo was a terrific player and is a great manager. You want to see him do well.
    3. But John Terry. You can’t support any team with John Terry in it. Yuck.
    4. But Barcelona is the overwhelming favorite, so you don’t want to root for them. And anyway, they’re too perfect, with their brilliant passing triangles and overwhelming possession. And so many of their fans are unbearably smug. It’d be great to see them take a fall.

    How do you resolve this web of contradictions? A 2-2 draw with a John Terry red card. Great success!

  43. GW says:


    They can be just as easy or just as hard depending on the circumstances. Plenty of “sitters”, where the player misses a tap in from a few yards out are technically easier than scoring from a penalty but player smiss them all the time. And lots of players miss penalties. even the cold blooded Dempsey is notorious for not being a great penalty taker.

    I am saying anyone who thinks penalties are a guaranteed goal and easy to make is foolish.

    We did not need to have maybe the best player on the planet miss a vital penalty to prove that but it does reinforce the point.

  44. Mark says:

    Was I the only one who didn’t think Terry deserved red? Sanchez clearly has a delayed reaction after the contact, rolls around like he just got shot, and then bounces up and is fine two seconds later. Barca is soft and diving shouldn’t be tolerated.

  45. GW says:

    Barca were licking their lips too.

    Even without the four players it’s not as if the talent Chelsea will be able to line up will be USL level talent.

    Chelsea have absolutely nothing to lose. A classic “trap” game for either Real or Bayern.

    I would say it will be a toss up, 0-0, decided by penalties.

  46. trey says:

    thank god there won’t be another Super(boring)classico this season. well done Chels

  47. Tim says:

    Barcelona showed they are a one-dimensional team. They continually tried to work the ball through the middle as Chelsea was bunkerining the entire second half.

    Barcelona has no outside shooters. They were terribly exposed in this match. Poor tactictics by Guardiola. They should have taken more chances.

    Awful performance, Barca

  48. GW says:

    Like Torres said before this game, sometimes the best team does not win.

    You get to the final because you score more than the other guy, when it matters. How you do that is irrelevant.

  49. Shaun says:

    Could not agree more with your thoughts toward the teams and the outcome.

  50. GW says:

    The modern game has millions of dollars on the line.

    Players who are effective at what they do are therefore worth a great deal of money.

    Both Suarez and Terry have proven effective at what they are paid to do.

    As long as that remains true, they will be allowed greater leeway in a variety of matters than lesser players.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly misinformed.

    Just follow the money. That is the be all and end all of the game at this level.

    Finally, I haven’t seen every great player but all the ones I did see often made “dirty choices”. Humans often do and they don’t owe anyone an explanation for that. The only one I can think of who I never saw do that is Paolo Maldini.

    By the way I think Terry is a scumbag and overrated but obviously he is doing something right for someone.

  51. TH says:

    Good post, ANM. Agreed with all points.

  52. Danny says:

    Perhaps someone can help me make sense of Torres’ goal: was he not offside because the ball was simply being cleared? Or was there a Barca defender (who I didn’t see) behind him as the ball was cleared?

  53. AcidBurn says:

    I think Torres received the ball in his own half – and you can’t be offside on your half of the field, even if you are behind the last defender.

  54. jensph says:

    What channel is tomorrow’s Bayern v Madrid game on? Can’t find it.

  55. Danny says:

    Thanks! That helps.

  56. Yoreau Snaub says:

    Germans love the Spanish. Haven’t you heard of Mallorca? It’s basically little Germany. But they certainly do hate the English.

  57. Eric says:

    The ball was released while Torres was in his own half therefore no offside.

  58. Doug says:

    And we think Rafa Marquez is bad here in the States…. John Terry is utter scum.

  59. Miguel says:

    Yep…They were all scared of missing. These primadonnas just want to look pretty. They deserve to lose.

  60. Northzax says:

    Passes attempted/completed can be a useful statistic, just like possession, but this isn’t baseball, statistics, at least the ones developed so far, don’t tell the story of a match. Take basketball. You want a guard who completes passes, that’s obvious. And I bet a great point guard completes 50-60 passes in a game. But unless they’re followed by a score, who cares? It’s like time of possession, it can tell a story, but unless it leads to scoring opportunities, it’s worthless.

    Barca didn’t want the win enough to stop being themselves for 45 minutes. If you can’t figure out how to beat a team up a man and a goal, at home, you don’t deserve any accolades, really.

  61. sir coble says:

    fx. FX as in “we got da movies”,

    “archer”, and “always sunny in philadelphia”

  62. This Guy says:

    Messi from G.O.A.T. to goat in 2 weeks.

  63. Yo says:

    Suck it cheating diving Barca!

  64. Exactly what I was thinking. Both games to write home about (if you were the winner!).

  65. Abe says:

    He is a great big pos

  66. ec says:

    Let’s also not forget that Barca hit 4 off the woodwork over the two games. A little luckier there and they are through, even with all their problems.

  67. Rudi says:

    Champions league is very interesting to me, but I never understand how the qualification stuff works from year to year.

    Question: does Chelsea (by making this year’s CL final) automatically qualify for NEXT year’s CL even if they finish outside of the top 4 in EPL? What about if they WIN the final?

    Anybody know? Answers appreciated.

  68. Judging Amy says:

    I don’t like Barca but I don’t get how this game all of a sudden shows a gaping weakness. They dominated this game, created many good chances and were pretty unfortunate not to win.

    I’m not sure if this loss shows that they can’t adapt or that their style isn’t effective.

    (But yes the general gushing over tiki taka is pretty nauseating).

  69. Matt S says:

    As a rule, England are only given 4 places in the CL. Normally the top 4 teams qualify with the 4th team having to go through additional qualifying rounds before entering the tournament proper.

    Now in the case of Chelsea, there is a chance that they will not finish in the top 4 but they can still qualify for next years CL if they win the final. As a result only the top 3 teams in England would get into the CL plus Chelsea (ie if Chelsea finish 5th but win the CL then they qualify and whoever finished 4th gets bumped down to the Europa league).

    However if Chelsea do not win the final then they HAVE to finish in the top 4 if they are to be a part of next years tournament. In that case they would most likely qualify for the Europa League (already have tho due to reaching the final of the FA Cup).

    I’ve been reading up on this a lot as a Newcastle fan because there is a good chance that we will finish 4th and if Chelsea wins the CL final then we miss out on all that great CL glory next season.

  70. GW says:

    Well all this Barca love is supposedly about doing it the right way and being the best team of all time but as soon as they lose, boom,everyone is off the band wagon and onto the next big thing.

    It’s all about winning and if Barca get back to that next season, all the shallow band wagon front runners will be back.

    Somewhere, Roy Keane is laughing.

  71. Alex G says:


  72. Bob says:

    It’s definitely not common, but I can immediately recall two times where team’s prospects on multiple fronts are effectively eliminated in a very short period of time.

    2002 – Bayer Leverkusen blows a possible Treble. First, they cede what would have been their first Bundesliga title to Dortmund by fumbling away a 5 pt lead with two losses in their last three matches. Then they post a 4-2 lost to Schalke in the German Cup final and follow it with a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the CL final.

    2011 – Between 2/27 and 3/12, Arsenal lose the Carling Cup final, lose on aggregate to Barca in the CL Rd of 16, and crash out of the FA Cup.

  73. Shounen Bat says:

    I think Chelsea goes with: Cech; Bosingwa, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Essien, Lampard; Mata, Drogba, Kalou/Sturridge. If Cahill and Luiz are still hurt? God help them.

  74. Shounen Bat says:

    Too true. See: Liverpool in 2005

  75. Shounen Bat says:

    No, you’re not alone. What Terry did was distasteful, but boy, did Sanchez make a meal out of it. I would say Yellow, but ultimately, in realtime, I get why the linesman might have reacted the way that he did and called for the Red.

  76. CroCajun says:

    It’s amazing hearing people complain about how Barca needs to get this player and that player and how players like Cesc and Pique are somehow not cutting it.

    These are some of the very best players in the world. You don’t just go out and get better players than them, but that’s what I’m hearing.

  77. CroCajun says:

    All the Barca fans jumping off the bandwagon seem to be missing this point.

  78. Pd says:

    Yep. It’s just crazy how little it takes to go from on the brink of having it all to being empty handed. All with millions of dollars at stake.

  79. pd says:


  80. David says:

    You know, as nice as Torres’ goal was, it was inconsequential to the outcome of the series. The goal RAMIRES scored was the winner. He’s not getting much talk, but it was a Messi-like chip on the end of a great run and equally great pass. He’s been such quality during these past 2 games.

  81. nathan says:

    Agreed that Ramires’ was the game winner, but Torres goal wasn’t inconsequential. It helped kill of a couple minutes of the injury time. 😀 Not saying Barca WOULD have scored in those couple minutes, but Chelsea certainly was well served to be saved from those added couple minutes of defending the all out blitz.

  82. Yellow Submarine Sinking says:

    well played.

  83. Edmondo says:

    I am pretty sure if Chelsea finish 5th and WIN the Champions League, they will go through qualifying AS WELL AS whoever finishes 4th in the Premier League. Unless the rules have changed (which is entirely possible), that is what happened when Liverpool and Everton finished 5th and 4th, but Liverpool won the Champions’ League in 2004-2005.

  84. Fitba says:

    Must be something with the Terry family DNA. John Terry’s older brother Paul, a footballer in one of the scrub divisions in England, slept with the fiancee of one of his teammates, which lead that teammate to become distraught and commit suicide.

  85. THomas says:

    They beat Barca at Camp Nou without Terry or Cahill and one mand down…That Ramirez goal was the coolest finish I’ve ever seen.

  86. THomas says:

    How does this article not make one mention of Di Matteo? What a joke. I’m a Fulahm fan and hate Chelsea, but what he’s done with them is unbelievable.

  87. HoboMike says:

    To be fair, they didn’t beat Barca, they drew, and only because Barca threw 10 into Chelsea’s box at the end.

  88. HoboMike says:

    Don’t you mean if Luiz is not hurt, God help them?

    It will be interesting to see what Gomez or Benzema/Higuain do to Luiz, who is not exactly a lock-down defender.

  89. HoboMike says:

    The reaction of the opposing player should not be a determining factor. The intention and actions of the fouling player should be. Terry walked over to Sanchez, while the ball was 40 yards away, and kneed him in the lower back/upper a$$ area. Did Sanchez go down theatrically? Yes. Is it an obvious red card? Also yes.

    I understand about Barca’s flopping – I can’t stand Busquets for that reason. But good referees and linesmen see past the theatrics and call on what the offense is.

    In any sport, if a player takes a swing at another player but misses, do you give him a pass? No, you throw him out. Same thing here.

  90. HoboMike says:

    +1 to MF.

    Said perfectly. Great teams find a way to win, even when their opponent takes away their plan of attack.

    I despise Chelsea, but something inside me did a flip-flop around the 60th minute, like the Russians in Rocky IV. It’s when I realized that Barcelona is the equivalent of the flamboyant Rucker Park basketball player. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the fancy moves and quick footwork, and try to go for steals, and you’ll be blown away. Stare down your opponent, don’t back down, and play good defense, and you’ll soon realize that for all of his wizardry, he’s going nowhere, real fast.

    Watching Barca ping-pong the ball around to the tune of 80% possession really annoyed me – it was obvious to see that they were going nowhere and needed to change up their tactics. Barca looked dangerous doing two things – on the counter when Chelsea was scrambling defensively (first goal) or gave the ball away in a bad area (second goal), and when they actually tried shooting from outside the area (Mascherano had 3 fantastic strikes, Messi hit the post, etc.). They need more of that. With their current lineup, pack the 18 with players. Make them swing it wide. Nothing will be accomplished.

  91. marco says:

    Well deserved victory for Chelsea and Di Mateo.
    They stayed central and narrow the entire match, never once doubling down on Barcelona’s impotent wingers.

  92. josh says:

    “I despise Chelsea, but something inside me did a flip-flop around the 60th minute…”

    As much as I hate to admit it, I’m right there with you. Especially with Terry off the field.

  93. oscarinfw says:

    I hate Chelsea’s Anti-football but I’m also tired of Barcelona’s TIki Taka. After Chelsea went down to 10 men and they camped everyone in front of goal, I began to see that Barcelona was starting to run out of ideas of how to break down Chelsea’s defense. A rather unconventional “work of beauty” from the Chelsea defense. I wonder if there is a lesson here for other teams on how to play Barcelona ? Or perhaps a wake up call for Barcelona to figure out how to change their tactics for the 10-0-0 formation.