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Chelsea oust Juventus in 2-2 thriller

Goals from African pair Didier Drogba and Michael Essien earned Chelsea a 2-2 draw over Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday to send last year’s finalists through to the quarterfinals 3-2 on

Juve finished with 10 men following the second-half dismissal of Giorgio Chiellini but goals from Vincenzo Iaquinta and evergreen Alessandro Del Piero had briefly given them cause for hope.

Instead the first of three anglo-Italian ties in the second round went the way of the powerful Premier League.

But Chelsea had to come back from a goal down on the night, something that had coach Guus Hiddink purring about their reaction.

”Playing here at Juventus’s home is not the easiest task. We had a job to do, we started rather sloppily, we lost too many duels. They could give some easy passes into their front players and the defence was not marking well,” he said.

”But the reaction of the team was ok, we knew that at 1-0 or even 2-0 we must not panic because we were able to score any moment.

”We reacted at 1-0, had good score on edge of half-time and in the second half we controlled the game a little more and didn’t play stupid long balls.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg and needing to score, Juve coach Claudio Ranieri picked an attacking line-up with Del Piero playing behind forwards David Trezeguet and Iaquinta.

It initially paid dividends and at the end of the game Ranieri rued what might have been.

”We lost this tie at Stamford Bridge because we didn’t score and in this competition it’s important to get an away goal, but we didn’t manage it,” he said.

”I think if we had gone through it wouldn’t have been a scandal. They’re a great team of course and if you think of what Chelsea did last year, reaching the final and the great economic investment which
has made this team really strong.”

Even so, they did not create much until the 19th minute when the hosts took the lead out of nothing.

Iaquinta played a one-two with Trezeguet, whose return ball was perfectly weighted, allowing his strike partner to outpace John Terry and finish past Petr Cech with aplomb.

Juve suddenly had a spring in their step and Del Piero tried his luck from distance, forcing Cech to tip the ball over.

The hosts were looking comfortable and having the better of things without looking like adding to their lead.

But the game turned on its head in a crazy spell at the end of the first period.

On 45 minutes Drogba lined up to take a free-kick which he bent around the wall and just inside the post.

Gianluigi Buffon got across his line to clutch the ball at the post at the second attempt but television replays showed it had just sneaked over the line.

It wasn’t given but Chelsea’s frustration fired them up enough to equalise in first half stoppage time anyway.

Frank Lampard set his sights from a distance and his shot took a deflection and looped up with Buffon arching back to tip it on to the bar.

It came down and may too have crossed the line but Essien charged in to bundle the ball home and leave no doubt that the Blues were on level terms.

It was his first goal in 11 months in his first start since September.

That changed the tone of the game and it took Juventus a full quarter of an hour of the second period to start looking dangerous.

When they did Del Piero was the architect of a move on 65 minutes that almost resulted in a score as he crossed for Trezeguet to head goalwards, only for Cech to produce a flying save.

Ranieri introduced young playmaker Sebastian Giovinco and he too almost created something but Del Piero couldn’t quite get a flick on his teammate’s free-kick.

But 20 minutes from time any chance of a Juve revival seemingly died as Chiellini picked up a second booking for clattering into Drogba.

However, moments later Del Piero fired a free-kick into the Chelsea wall that struck Michael Ballack’s raised arms and the referee pointed to the spot, with Del Piero himself cooly slotting the ball home.

It was game on but seven minutes from time Chelsea sealed their passage into the last eight as substitute Juliano Belletti crossed for Drogba to poke home from close range for his fourth goal in five games. – AFP



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