It could well be a late night in the Champions League. We’ve got the kettle on and the telly booked as Chelsea look to get the job finished against Benfica.
Full-time: Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (3-1 on agg)
19.37 – Good evening, sports fans. It’s the short trip to Stamford Bridge for tonight’s European action, where Chelsea hold a 1-0 lead over Benfica.
10 minutes until kick-off so we better get the line-ups in. According to Eamon Dunphy, Roberto Di Matteo has put out “a good team, not a great team”:
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Torres, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Drogba, Meireles, Ferreira, Sturridge, Cahill.
Benfica: Artur Moraes, Maxi Pereira, Javi Garcia, Emerson, Capdevila, Witsel, Matic, Bruno Cesar, Aimar, Cardozo, Gaitan. Subs: Eduardo, Nolito, Djalo, Nelson Oliveira, Rodrigo Moreno, Saviola, Andre Almeida.
19.43 – Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic return for the home side in place of Paolo Ferreira and Raul Meireles while Fernando Torres keeps his place ahead of Didier Drogba.
Benfica are missing captain Luisao and Jardel, so former Villarreal defender Joan Capdevila and Serbian international Nemanja Matic, who spent two years at Chelsea, come in.
The teams are out on the pitch so we’re not far off now.
19.45 – By the way, at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid take a 3-0 lead into their quarter-final second leg with APOEL Nicosia.
19.49 – We’re underway and the early exchanges see Benfica earn a corner after a neat exchange between Axel Witsel and Pablo Aimar, who looks in the mood.
19.54 – Corner down the other end as Javi Garcia puts behind his own end line. The ball falls to David Luiz at the back post but the Brazilian’s well-struck shot is expertly blocked down by Capdevila.
19.58 – Ten minutes have flown in and it’s the visitors who are doing most of the attacking. Chelsea retrieve the ball however, and Juan Mata looks to get his compatriot Torres away early but over-plays the pass.
The Spanish playmaker then latches onto the end of a Salomon Kalou through-ball and shoots past Artur but is correctly deemed offside.
20.00 – Nicolas Gaitan is picked out by Bruno Cesar with a switched ball but attempts an audacious first-time volley and gets it horribly wrong.
20.05 – Ashley Cole puts in a timely tackle on Cesar, who takes a heavy fall on his shoulder. Plays is stopped while he receives treatment but the Brazilian is back on the field and will soldier on.
Benfica hitman Oscar Cardozo is the first played into Damir Skomina’s book, meanwhile, after a late tackle on Luiz.
20.05 – PENALTY FOR CHELSEA
Garcia clumsily crashed into the advancing Ashley Cole, who goes down in a bundle and prompts Skomina to point to the spot. Can have no complaints, in fairness.
20.06 – GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Benfica (2-0 on agg) (Frank Lampard)
Lampard takes responsibility and blasts under the body of Artur to give the Pensioners a 2-0 aggregate advantage.
20.14 – Space opens up in front of Cardozo but his ambitious effort lacks accuracy. Lampard then fouls Bruno Cesar and Aimar is cautioned for being a little too outspoken to the referee.
20.16 – Jon Obi Mikel concedes a free-kick, which is well-worked and leads to Cardozo striking past Petr Cech, where John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are on hand to clear.
20.19 – In Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo (who else?) finishes off a cross from Marcelo for his seventh in this year’s competition. Jose Mourinho’s side are now 4-0 up on aggregate and are surely in the semis.
20.22 – Mata is penalised for a high foot. Aimar with the free-kick, but it’s easily cut out and the Blues have a free out.
Possession looks like this after 35 minutes:
- Chelsea 45%
- Benfica 55%
20.28 – RED CARD FOR MAXI PEREIRA
The Benfica skipper lasts less than a half and is given a second yellow and his marching orders for a studs up on Mikel. The Uruguayan had been given his first for protesting about the penalty.
20.30 – It’s now Real Madrid 2-0 APOEL. Kaka curls the ball home brilliantly from 25 yards. Could be one for the future this lad!
20.33 – Half-time: Chelsea 1-0 Benfica (2-0 on agg)
Last moments see Torres cut-back snuffed out and an Aimar free-kick headed away by Terry. Di Matteo couldn’t have asked for much more from the half, and his side aren’t even playing particularly well.
Terry throws himself in front of Aimar’s strike. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images
20.48 – Second has begun. Benfica boss Jorge Jesus needs a miracle.
20.50 – John Terry leaps highest to head a corner wayward after Kalou’s shot is directed out behind Benfica’s goal.
Aimar and Gaitan link up to find Cardozo on the edge of Chelsea’s box and the Paraguayan forces Cech into a terrfic save.
20.54 – Chelsea waste a guilt-edge opportunity to further their lead and Ramires won’t want to see that back. Kalou goes by Witsel handy enough and squares across the box where the former Benfica midfielder manages to scuff off-target from three yards.
20.58 – Torres turns Emerson inside out and drives the ball from 18 yards but a nick sends it behind for a corner. El Nino has scored just two goals, which both came in the 5-0 drubbing of Genk back in October, in this year’s Champions League.
21.02 – Another chance for the former Atletico Madrid and Liverpool forward but his improvised flick is wide after Mata had pulled a save from Artur.
The Eagles take off their top scorer in Europe Cardozo for 20-year-old Nelson Oliveira and Gary Cahill has been introduced for John Terry, presumably as a precautionary measure.
Unless this is the case…
21.05 – Second change for Benfica. Gaitan is off and has been replaced by Yannick Djalo, who signed for the club from Sporting Lisbon in January.
21.11 – Bad misses down both ends. Djalo finds a couple of yards in the box but skews wide. Then Kalou breaks free but needs to work on his left foot from that showing – the Ivorian’s shot is a tame one and Artur makes the save.
21.16 – Twenty minutes to play and another Chelsea chance goes begging. Mata makes a run through the middle and is found by Kalou but the former Valencia man is a couple of yards wide of the far post.
Rodrigo, who came through Real Madrid’s youth team and spent a season on loan at Bolton, is on for Bruno Cesar.
Djalo has failed to hit the target again, this time with a header.
21.19 – Nice build-up play from the hosts but yet again they can’t convert. Mikel threads through for Cole, who in turn centres to Mata. Kalou then takes it off his team-mates foot and turns to strike wide.
Seconds later, Cech saves from Oliveira. As the man beside me has just said, it’s amazing that there haven’t been more goals in this second half.
21.23 – Good old Madrid won’t let us down though. They concede one from Gustavo Manduca but put themselves five goals ahead soon after through Ronaldo, who gets his second.
Mikel is finally booked after a half dozen fouls and before Aimar can only find the safe hands of Cech, Raul Meireles joins the action for Juan Mata after a decent shift.
Here’s that Kaka goal by the way:
YouTube credit: SportsTheGame
21.27 – And as I type, three more goals go in at the Bernabeu. It’s now 5-2 on the night and 8-2 on aggregate! APOEL’s incredible run comes to an end.
21.28 – GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Benfica (2-1 on agg) (Javier Garcia)
David Luiz gifts his old side a goal by deciding to get a quick nap in during a Benfica corner. 25-year-old Spaniard Javier Garcia loses his marker and glances by Cech to ensure a frantic finale.
21.32 – George Hamilton has got his sums right tonight, it seems: “If Benfica can score again they’ll be in the semi-finals,” he says as Oliveira fires wide.
Didier Drogba gets a couple of minutes to throw his weight around as 90 minutes nears.
21.35 – GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (3-1 on agg) (Raul Meireles)
That’s that then. Meireles picks the ball up at the halfway line and drives forward unopposed before sending a rocket past Artur.
The ex-Porto midfielder shows their arch rivals’ fans how much it means with his elaborate celebrations. Game over.
YouTube credit: kaloqaily1
21.38 – Full-time: Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (3-1 on agg)
21.55 – Not much love from the RTE panel for Chelsea. Dunphy talking about “poor players” and Brady maintains they’re not going anywhere and it could end up as “an appalling season”.
Either way, they’re the only English side left in Europe and will take on the current champions later this month.
Everyone’s got unfinished business with them (Barcelona). They’re the greatest team in the world. They have been and still are.
That game (in 2009) is still in our minds but this is a different year and we have to try to beat them. They’ll be favourites but we’ve got belief. We know we’ll have to perform to our best to beat them but we can believe we can do it,” – Frank Lampard
22.09 – So the semi-finals look like this:
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Chelsea v Barcelona
Ties to be played April 17/18 and 24/25.