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Liverpool hold Chelsea goalless
April 28, 2005 02:29 IST
Last Updated: April 28, 2005 09:14 IST
Chelsea stumbled on the path to next month's Champions League final when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Liverpool in an uncompromising first leg of their semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The English champions-elect could find no way through a superbly-marshalled Liverpool defence in the first all-English semi-final in the competition's history as players from 18 different countries -- either on the pitch or the bench -- were absorbed in an end-to-end deadlock.
Liverpool, who drew 0-0 at Juventus in the quarter-finals to reach the last four 2-1 on aggregate, employed the same defensive approach with a stifling five-man midfield as Jose Mourinho's jaded-looking team failed to beat Liverpool for the first time in four meetings this season.
Rafael Benitez's Liverpool will now start next Tuesday's second leg at Anfield as slight favoutites to meet either AC Milan or PSV Eindhoven in Istanbul on May 25. Milan beat Eindhoven 2-0 in their first leg on Tuesday.
Wednesday's result appeared to satisfy both managers.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, whose men beat Liverpool in February's League Cup final, told Sky Sports News: "I'm happy.
"It is not the result we fought for, we created enough chances to win the game but in a Champions League tie 0-0 at home is a good result.
"It leaves me feeling very, very confident that we will go to the final.
"I think 99.9 percent of Liverpool fans think they have one foot in the final -- and they haven't. It will be very difficult for them."
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said: "We played a good game, the team worked hard and we controlled the game a lot of the time. A draw was a good result."
There were very few scoring chances in the second half as Chelsea, trying to reach the final for the first time, continually came up against the outstanding Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
The visitors limited their forays to occasional bursts forward and substitute Djibril Cisse had their only real scoring chance in the second period but fired into the side netting after 68 minutes, two minutes after replacing Milan Baros.
Luis Garcia and Steven Gerrard worked tirelessly for Liverpool who will have to do without their midfield colleague Xabi Alonso in the second leg after the leggy Spaniard picked up a harsh late booking for a foul on Eidur Gudjohnsen.
All the best chances came in an entertaining opening half.
The first fell to Chelsea after 14 minutes when Didier Drogba did well to control the ball and power his way past two men in the box before firing wide across the face of the goal.
Five minutes later John Arne Riise outwitted Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry before forcing Petr Cech into a fine parried save.
Frank Lampard had a golden opportunity to give Chelsea the lead after 22 minutes but fired over the bar from six metres out before Cech pulled off another acrobatic save six minutes before halftime, palming a glancing Baros header to safety when the ball appeared to be dropping behind him into the net.