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Chelsea, Real Madrid progress into Champions League last-four - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Chelsea's Demba Ba celebrates scoring their second goal against Paris St-Germain during their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal 2nd leg match at Stamford Bridge in London, Britain, 08 April 2014.  (EPA/Gerry Penny)

Chelsea’s Demba Ba celebrates scoring their second goal against Paris St-Germain during their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal 2nd leg match at Stamford Bridge in London, Britain, 08 April 2014. (EPA/Gerry Penny)

London, Reuters—Chelsea reached the Champions League semi-finals with a late Demba Ba goal that secured a dramatic away-goals win over Paris St Germain on Tuesday, while Real Madrid held off a spirited Borussia Dortmund fightback.

Chelsea secure dramatic victory

Chelsea snatched a dramatic late goal through Demba Ba to beat Paris St Germain 2-0 and reach the Champions League semi-finals on the away goals rule on another memorable European night at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Substitute striker Ba, who replaced Frank Lampard midway through the second half, struck with time running out for the 2012 European champions, who looked to be going out of the competition after losing the first leg 3-1 last week.

But Ba’s goal in the 87th minute levelled the tie at 3-3 and Chelsea, evoking memories of their battling and ultimately successful campaign two seasons ago, went through on away goals thanks to Eden Hazard’s penalty in Paris last week.

Andre Schuerrle, who replaced the injured Hazard after only 17 minutes on Tuesday, had given Chelsea hope with a superbly taken goal after 32 minutes but Jose Mourinho’s perfect record of winning all eight European quarter-finals he had been involved in, seemed about to end with time running out.

Ba sealed victory, though, when a Cesar Azpilicueta shot was deflected to him in the area and he scooped the ball past keeper Salvatore Sirigu to send the home fans into raptures as Mourinho sprinted down the touchline to join his celebrating players.

“It all happened so quick,” said Ba. “I saw the ball and it was in the goal. I just do what I have to do when I get chances. I didn’t have chances this season but tonight I took it.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho added on ITV: “Demba made a crucial finish for us and I think very much deserved. The team that decided to defend was punished and the team that played with their heart deserved to go to the semis.”

The Portuguese coach’s dash along the touchline evoked memories of his famous Old Trafford celebration when his Porto side beat Manchester United in 2004 although this time he was also keen to tell his players not to take any risks.

It is the seventh time in 11 Champions League campaigns that Chelsea have reached the last four and Mourinho is on course to become the first manager to win the European Cup with three clubs after triumphs with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

Mourinho had told his players to “go out and play with a smiles on their faces” as they had nothing to lose after last week’s defeat, but they failed to make an early impression as PSG dominated the midfield and pegged Chelsea back.

Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti took a stranglehold in the middle of the park for the visitors, who were playing with the kind of confidence that comes from a team who have won their last 11 matches.

But PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who said his best form of defending their first leg lead was to attack, appeared to have different tactics in reality and his side failed to seriously test Chelsea when they held the upper hand.

Although PSG were minutes away from reaching the last four for the first time since 1995, their was an increasing air of inevitability that Chelsea would steal that chance from them.

The visitors’ only real attempts came in the closing stages with the score still 1-0 on the night and PSG 3-2 ahead on aggregate when striker Edinson Cavani twice went close.

If either of those efforts had gone in, Chelsea would have probably gone out but the London side survived and took their own scoring opportunity when it came.

They had also gone close twice early in the second half when first Germany international Schuerrle, who had a magnificent match, and then Oscar, from a freekick, clattered the bar.

With their fans roaring them on, Chelsea finished by far the better team and it seemed a matter of time before they repeated their heroics against Napoli in 2012.

On that occasion they came back from losing the first leg 3-1 in Italy to win 4-1 at Stamford Bridge after extra time before going on to win the trophy a few months later.

“This competition means a lot to us,” said Chelsea defender and captain John Terry, who was suspended for the final when Chelsea won the competition for the only time.

“The experiences we have had keeps you fighting and believing. Winning it was the best feeling ever. These big performances are what we live for.

“Everyone doubted us tonight but we showed great character and fight to come back. It all paid off,” he added on ITV ahead of Friday’s semi-final draw.

Real Madrid overcome Dortmund

Lacklustre Real Madrid edged past dazzling Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate after a 2-0 defeat on Tuesday to advance to the Champions League semi-finals and stay on track for their tenth European Cup.

Two first half goals by Marco Reus, both coming from Real mistakes, gave Dortmund a deserved lead as the Spaniards, who had a penalty saved in the 17th minute, were left mesmerised by the Germans’ frantic pace on a rainy evening in the Ruhr valley.

Real, with top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo left on the bench due a minor knee injury, saw their 3-0 advantage from the first leg in Madrid almost evaporate in a disastrous first half for them.

“That was too much suffering and I think it was deserved,” said Real keeper Iker Casillas. “But from time to time it’s good to have this kind of wake up call that reminds us it’s not always easy, and especially not in the Champions League.

“It is better that it happened in this game than in the decisive matches to come. We had to show quite a lot of mental strength because going 2-0 down by the 37th minute there were a lot of things going through our heads,” he told Spain’s TVE.

Real, who twice lost to Dortmund in Germany in last season’s competition including a 4-1 thrashing in the first leg of their semi-final, briefly recovered in the second half before the Germans, last season’s runners-up, again surged forward, missing half a dozen clear chances and also hitting the post.

The Spaniard side’s first leg performance, however, carried them through to their fourth consecutive semi-final, leaving Dortmund to rue their missed opportunities.

“We played a very slow game, with many errors and no confidence. After the penalty a bit of fear crept into the team,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters, adding that Ronaldo was fit but he opted not to risk playing him.

“Every game is difficult at this stage and we saw that today. It was a night of struggling, of suffering but at the end we are just happy to have made it into the semis.”

The Germans got off to a fiery start, looking for an early goal that could set them on their way.

Real, however, squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead and put the tie all but beyond the hosts when they were awarded a penalty for a hand ball by defender Lukasz Piszczek and Angel Di Maria had it saved by Roman Weidenfeller.

A minute later it was Dortmund’s turn to miss with Henrikh Mkhitaryan firing wide from close range but Reus made amends in the 24th, pouncing on a defensive mistake by Pepe to slot in for the lead.

Mats Hummels almost added another as the hosts piled on the pressure but his well-timed header was palmed over the bar by Casillas.

Germany international Reus crashed in his second goal in the 37th when he charged forward after another Real mistake, this time from Asier Illarramendi, fed striker Robert Lewandowski who hit the post, and was left unmarked to drill in at the far post.

“You could make a video of this game and show it to the teams that lose a first leg 3-0,” said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. “My players wanted to go through but we were missing that one goal we did not score in Madrid (last week).

“The lads gave it everything they had and I have no idea how many kilometres they ran today.”

Real brought on Isco in the second half to control possession and they briefly succeeded as Dortmund lost some of their passing sharpness and pace.

Dortmund were lurking on the break and almost levelled the tie when Armenian Mkhitaryan rounded Casillas but only managed to hit the post in the 65th minute.

The Germans then poured forward, determined to score a third that would force extra time but could not find the back of the net, leaving the competition with their heads held high and to a standing ovation by their fans in the 65,000 crowd.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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