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Eto'o gives Barcelona win over Chelsea
February 23, 2006 04:00 IST
Last Updated: February 23, 2006 09:03 IST
Champions League Last 16 first leg
Barcelona took a huge step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against a Chelsea side playing with only 10 men for most of Wednesday's first leg match at Stamford Bridge.
African player of the year Samuel Eto'o headed the winner in the 80th minute and only brave defending by Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Cech and captain John Terry stopped Barcelona scoring three or even four goals in the dying minutes.
Barca, beaten by Chelsea at the same first knockout round stage last season, enjoyed most of the possession even before Spanish left back Asier Del Horno was sent off in the 37th minute for a late challenge on Argentine teenager Lionel Messi.
Chelsea showed more aggression despite their numerical disadvantage in the second half and were rewarded when tumbling midfielder Thiago Motta knocked the ball into his own net from a Frank Lampard free kick in the 59th minute.
But another own goal levelled the scores in the 71st when Terry headed into his own net from a Ronaldinho free kick before Eto'o popped up to score Barca's 300th goal in Europe's elite club competition as he climbed high to clinch the victory.
It was Chelsea's first home defeat in open play in any match for two years and they now face an uphill task of reaching the last eight when they visit the Nou Camp on March 7.
The match was played at a breath-taking tempo throughout with players from both sides displaying the highest technical ability on the difficult surface.
However, the most dramatic moment of the first half came after 37 minutes when Del Horno clattered into Messi by the Chelsea goal-line.
After a fracas involving a dozen players Norwegian referee Terje Hauge showed the Chelsea fullback an automatic red card to the disgust of the home fans and bemused manager Jose Mourinho.
There was no doubt Del Horno played the man and not the ball but TV replays suggested he tried to evade the Argentine who took full advantage of the situation with a number of theatrical rolls on the ground after he fell.
Mourinho, a master of tactical substitutions immediately re-jigged his side, bringing on Geremi to shore up the left-hand side and sacrificing the creativity of Joe Cole in midfield.
Barca now had numerical superiority on the mud heap of a pitch and, after a brief Chelsea assault at the start of the second half, dominated the play with Ronaldinho at the heart of all their attacks and Deco an inspiration in midfield.
Ronaldinho's free kick not only led to their opening goal but his powerful surge through the mud despite tiring legs 10 minutes from time set up substitute Henrik Larsson.
Larsson, in acres of space with a depleted home defence stretched to breaking point, played the ball back to Rafael Marquez whose whipped cross was headed home by Eto'o.
The goal gave Barcelona victory on the night and control of the tie ahead of the return leg in the Nou Camp on March 7.
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage