Drogba wins battle of the heavyweights
Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (4-3 on aggregate)Like two boxers who had slugged themselves into the ground, Rafa Benitez and Didier Drogba must have been hurting after this battering.
|“||I understand why Chelsea lost to them three times in the semi-finals in the past. To win against them is very special. ”|
|— Avram Grant on Liverpool|
MAN OF THE MATCH: Javier Mascherano The Argentine battler did not deserve to finish this game as a loser after an all-action display from start to finish. He must now be the world's premier defensive midfielder. ANFIELD AFFECTION: Liverpool officials didn't allow the magnitude of this game to blur their attention to detail and the basket of flowers handed to a grieving Frank Lampard prior to kick-off was a nice touch. PENALTY DRAMA: Sami Hyypia seemed to have been fouled in the box at the start of the second period of extra time. Had the decision gone in Liverpool's favour, this tie could have turned. Arsenal fans will not have any sympathy after their spot-kick misery in the quarter-finals. OWNER SYMPATHY: Benitez revealed Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks visited his dressing room after the game to compliment the team on their effort. DROGBA HITS BACK: 'What Benitez said about me was very personal and I didn't like it. I'm doing my best to promote English football and maybe he didn't like the idea of Liverpool losing. This is finished now. We are in the Final.' GRANT IS DOWN: You had to laugh as Steven Gerrard inadvertently barged over Avram Grant as he retrieved the ball moments before the half-time break. The poor old Israeli coach just couldn't help but look like a fool even on the greatest night of his career. VERDICT: After the gloom and tedium of the two previous ties between these two giants, we had a battle fit for a Champions League semi-final. This epic brawl could have gone either way, but Chelsea were left to celebrate the narrowest of victories.