Champions League Semi Final, 2nd leg – RESULT
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0 (Aggregate 1-1)
AET – Liverpool win 4-1 on penalties
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant (Alonso, 78), Gerrard, Mascherano (Fowler, 118), Zenden, Kuyt, Crouch (Bellamy, 106).
Unused subs: Padelli, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Gonzalez.
Booked: Agger, Zenden.
Goal: Agger 22.
Penalties: Zenden: 1-0, Alonso: 2-0, Gerrard: 3-1, Kuyt: 4-1
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Essien, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Makelele (Geremi, 118), Lampard, Joe Cole (Robben, 98), Drogba, Kalou (Wright-Phillips, 107).
Unused subs: Cudicini, Boulahrouz, Bridge, Diarra.
Booked: Ashley Cole.
Penalties: Robben: missed 1-0, Lampard: 2-1, Geremi: missed 3-1
Referee: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).
Liverpool Football Club are through to their seventh European Cup final after beating Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out at Anfield. As you can imagine, the Reds players and manager are delighted – not so the Chelsea boss who’s seen his side lose a major semi-final against Liverpool for the third year in a row.
Jamie Carragher was overjoyed to be heading for this second Champions League final in two years and expressed this without any kind of gloating: “It's a great achievement to beat a team like Chelsea over two legs.
“We thought there weren't going to be a lot of chances in the game and that's the way it turned out. Fortunately for us Daniel scored a great goal and then when it went to penalties we knew we had one of the best goalkeepers in the world and so we always had a chance.
Carra hailed the ’12 Man’ in the stands: “Of course we had the fans on our side and they again rose to the occasion. They were brilliant from start to finish and once again proved what a difference they can make.
“To reach the final again is brilliant and we're going to enjoy the fact that we're there again. That's the third year running we've beaten Chelsea in a semi-final.”
So Liverpool now wait to see who their opponents will be with the winners of tomorrow night’s second leg between AC Milan and Manchester United joining them in the final. Who does Carra prefer? “I don't care. It doesn't matter who we play. We can relax now and all watch the game on Wednesday night.”
Captain Steven Gerrard has extra reason to be happy with the result. In the aftermath of Istanbul he nearly joined Chelsea. To once again knock them out must have felt a touch sweeter than last time: “The first time round was special but to do it again after being a goal down to a magnificent team like Chelsea. It is unbelievable – together we achieved it.
“The atmosphere helped, the manager’s tactics, everything was spot on. But we crossed the line and we stuck together. We have the best goalkeeper in the world.”
Asked whether the pre-match criticism from Jose Mourinho gave Liverpool extra incentive Gerrard played it down: “That's Jose for you – he's been a credit to English football, he makes us laugh now and then.” Although: “I think he was a bit disrespectful calling us a little club – two finals in three years? Not bad for a little club.”
Dirk Kuyt got the fourth and decisive penalty: “It was very special for me,” said the Dutch star. “It will be my first final in my first year at Liverpool. We just believed in it. Pepe was fabulous.”
Goalkeeper Pepe Reina only let one of the penalties past him and says of the final on May 23rd: “Just a last step. We must do it.”
Manager Rafael Benítez sat in a Buddha pose during the shoot-out, the one part of the game where he had no need to coach. He said of the penalties: “We had confidence because we had players who practice in every training session – they like to do it.” And of Pepe: “He is a player that's always good with penalties.”
He went on: “Every player and every supporter deserves it – the atmosphere was amazing today.”
Meanwhile Jose Mourinho continued to make a fool of himself. His words before the two games had backfired, and if he makes a mess of those pre-planned words he’s little chance of saying the right things when still stinging from the defeat. He started off mildly: “It is a moment when everybody has to be strong. They (his players) have a lot of reasons to be proud. They did a great run in the Champions League.”
Then the sour grapes came out: “We were the best team today, even against a team only playing for the Champions League. In extra-time we were the only team who tried to win, but football is like that and the penalty shoot-out is part of the game.”
He wouldn’t admit that his ill-thought-out attacks on Liverpool FC had worked against him: “I respected Liverpool always in my words. I don't need to say more and today I think the best team was Chelsea.”