Branislav Ivanovic scored in extra-time to secure a place in the Champions League quarter finals on a dramatic night at Stamford Bridge.
The London side created history as they clawed back a 3-1 deficit to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate. Roberto Di Matteo called upon Chelsea’s ‘Old Guard’ as he recalled John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba who all failed to impress AVB before he was fired. And the three were vital in Chelsea’s famous win.
Terry defended brilliantly, Lampard pulled the strings in the heart of midfield and Drogba was a nuisance up front and the three were all on the score sheet. Drogba and Terry scored headers before Inler scored a wonderful volley, advantage Napoli. But it was Lampard who sent the game in to extra-time with his penalty kick. At the end of the first period of extra-time defender Ivanovic found himself in acres of space in the Napoli box and was able to convert Drogba’s pinpoint cross.
Stamford Bridge was buzzing prior to kick off, but it was the away side who started brightest. Hamsik crossed for Cavani but his strike could only find the side netting. Lavezzi then saw his strike comfortably saved by the legs of Petr Cech.
Chelsea responded, Daniel Sturridge’s low strike was comfortably saved by De Sanctis in the Napoli goal.
Completely against the run of play Chelsea took the lead. Ramires crossed from the left and Drogba headed home to open the scoring.
Napoli broke on the counter attack with Cavani, but his strike flew wide of the mark much to the relief of Petr Cech.
Chelsea needed another goal, and it came just two minutes after the interval. Frank Lampard’s corner was met by the glancing header of John Terry to double the home sides lead.
But Napoli responded with an away goal. John Terry’s header could only find the advancing Inler who calmly controlled the ball on his chest before firing home a volley to regain the overall advantage.
Napoli looked vulnerable from set-pieces, and so it proved when Andrea Dossena handled from a Lampard corner, penalty! Lampard stepped up to take the penalty, and did not make any mistakes, as he smashed the ball down the middle to complete a dramatic comeback.
With extra-time looming both sides came close to a vital goal. First Lavezzi saw his dipping shot land on the roof of the net and then Hamsik volleyed wide. Substitute Fernando Torres came close for Chelsea as his shot from an acute angle went wide.
And so the game went in to extra-time. Both teams looked jaded and tired but it was Chelsea who found the inner strength to win the game. Drogba showed great strength and vision as he held off a challenge and fired the ball across the box in to the path of the unmarked Ivanovic who fired the ball home, sending the London side through to the final eight of the Champions League.
It was a fantastic night for Chelsea and their ‘Old Guard’ who illustrated why they are not to be ruled out just yet. Roberto Di Matteo has won three out of three now and could well be a contender to take the job fulltime come the end of the season.