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Liverpool shock Chelsea to enter Champions League final
May 04, 2005 02:33 IST
Last Updated: May 04, 2005 11:32 IST
Liverpool scored one of the most dramatic wins in their history on Tuesday when they beat Chelsea 1-0 with a controversial early goal to reach the Champions League final in Istanbul on May 25.
Luis Garcia scored after only four minutes and that was enough for a 1-0 aggregate semi-final success and they will now meet either AC Milan or PSV Eindhoven in their sixth European Cup final later this month, and their first since 1985.
Chelsea, newly-crowned as Premier League champions on Saturday, suffered the heartbreak of losing at the semi-final stage of the Champions League for the second year running after their 5-3 aggregate defeat by Monaco last season.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said: "We have qualified for the final which means we have done a good job. When you have your supporters behind you, you run a little bit more."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho added: "The best team lost. Noboby knows if it was a goal, not even the linesman."
The London side battled to the end, though, and Liverpool had to soak up almost continual Chelsea pressure throughout a second half onslaught that produced few clear chances because of the brilliance of Liverpool's defending.
The nearest Chelsea came was with almost the last kick of the game when Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen fired wide from a tight angle.
For once Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who won the European Cup with Porto last year, could not devise a plan to save his side.
As his dream of a repeat victory died, Mourinho had to accept second best to his old Spanish rival Rafael Benitez, himself a European winner with Valencia in the UEFA Cup last season.
But the fourth-minute goal that gave Liverpool victory was highly contentious as Slovakian referee Lubos Michel ruled the ball had crossed the line, even though television replays were inconclusive.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard superbly deflected forward a square pass from John Arne Riise on the left and striker Milan Baros lobbed it over Chelsea's advancing goalkeeper Petr Cech who brought down his Czech countryman inside the area.
Garcia followed up to knock the ball goalwards and it took a slight deflection off Chelsea captain John Terry before William Gallas hooked it out from under the bar, but the goal was given.
The Anfield side's defence stood firm in the face of Chelsea's second-half onslaught and keeper Jerzy Dudek made a fine diving save from Frank Lampard's free kick as Liverpool just about deserved to go through to the final.
Liverpool had clearly been the better side in the first half, settled by the goal and continually reacting to the loose ball quicker, tackling harder and largely dominating a hugely competitive midfield battleground.
Although Lampard, Gudjohnsen and Tiago worked tirelessly for Chelsea, Didier Drogba and Joe Cole made little impression on Liverpool's back four with Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher in control in the middle and Djimi Traore and Steve Finnan covering superbly on either flank.
Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann, taking the place of the suspended Xabi Alonso, created time and space for himself and Gerrard to set up Garcia and Milan Baros in attack.
Although the Liverpool front men failed to find the net again, they showed more invention than the Chelsea strikers who generally looked jaded after a long, successful campaign that secured them the English League Cup in the final against Liverpool in February and the title on Saturday.
A heart-stopping six minutes of added time forced by two fans who ran on to the field only added to the tension on a balmy May night that will live long in the memory of all those Liverpool fans who saw the clock turned back 20 years at Anfield.