A Drog of a miracle

LONDON, Stamford Bridge – SK. After he scored a screamer against Tottenham on Sunday, The Drog turned it on against Barcelona. Drogba scrambled the only attempt on target from Chelsea past Valdez. It was enough to secure a memorable victory against Barcelona and see the Blues take a slender advantage into the return leg.
Football can be a bizarre and extra-ordinairy game. Barcelona had 72 % of possession, 24 attempts on target, hit the woodwork twice and utterly and totally dominated the entire 90 minutes. Chelsea were on the ropes with the ball permanentely in their half. Drogba rolled around on the ground as if addicted to feel the grass on his shirt. As to Chelsea’s individual performances, apart from Ashley Cole and Garry Cahill, it was a night to forget, yet only one statistic mattered: one attempt on target from Chelsea, one goal.
For all his diving, Drogba did neatly finish an excellent Chelsea counter-attack: Frank Lampard dispossessed Lionel Messi in the center of the park at the stroke of half-time and picked out Ramires, who latched onto Lampard’s exquisite, diametrical pass. The Brazilian found Drogba in the box with a low left-footed cross. The Drog pounced and sent Stamford Bridge into absolute pandemonium. 
And so Fabregas pre-match words turned reality: it was an encounter between Beauty and the Beast. Chelsea had reverted to their old direct pre-AVB-era style, throwing the ball long in search of a lone target man.  The Drog was the embodiment of the Chelsea Beast: very physical, shrewd and seizing the moment when needed to. The 34-year old Ivorian dug in with a spirited and steadfast showing, often surrounded by three or four Barcelona players. Chelsea managed to set free the Drog once and it proved to be sufficient.
Up till Drogba’s goal, Chelsea had soaked up tons of Catalonian pressure. After nine minutes Alex Sanchez got in behind Ivanovic and Cahill, who both got off to a wobbly start, but his lob over Cech’s grasp hit the bar. It was a warning sign for Chelsea and Barca kept coming. Iniesta’s shot was saved by Cech before Cesc Fabregas miscued the rebound from a goal scoring position. The former Arsenal star was not clinical enough when Messi played him in a few minutes later: his chip past the Chelsea goalkeeper being cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.  It was all about Chelsea scrambling to the break on level terms. Until, out of nowhere, the Drog unleashed his devils and stunned FC Barcelona. Guardiola’s XI looked utterly flabbergasted.
The pattern of the game didn’t change after the interval with Barcelona enjoying all the possession and Chelsea digging in. Cech was heroic in goal throughout. Busy as ever, he flew to his left to save Adriano’s 20 meter curler. Fabregas picked out Sanchez, who slotted the chance wide under pressure from the relentless Cole.  FC Barcelona pilled on the pressure and came closest to equalizing in the dying minutes of the game. With four minutes left Puyol’s header was brilliantly saved by Petr Cech. Pedro saw his shot cannon off the post and Busquets ballooned the rebound high over the bar. The final whistle from German referee Felix Brych, cool, calm and collected and throughout the game, brought salvation to Chelsea.
Di Matteo stood on the sideline with a small grin, the Chelsea fans celebrated and applauded the epic efforts from their players, but the mood was rather muted from both manager and supporters in recognition of the mammoth task that awaits Chelsea next  Tuesday in Catalonia. More heroics will be required from the Blues then, when Barcelona will try and exploit the width offered by the Nou Camp pitch. A repeat of tonight’s performance with grit and defiance, unwilling to yield, and nothing could be beyond this Chelsea team. The Nou Camp may as well change into the Blue Camp. But for now though, the night belongs to the Drog: Europe salutes him!