Chelsea force draw at Anfield
LIVERPOOL (Reuters) - Chelsea escaped from Liverpool with a 1-1 draw after the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, rescued by an injury time own goal from substitute John Arne Riise.
Dirk Kuyt had given Liverpool the lead after 43 minutes when he fired between goalkeeper Petr Cech's legs and with almost five minutes of injury time played, it looked as though Liverpool would take a deserved lead to Stamford Bridge for next week's second leg.
However with Austrian referee Konrad Plautz looking at his watch, Chelsea substitute Salomon Kalou lofted one last high ball into the Liverpool penalty area.
Riise, who had replaced the injured Fabio Aurelio after 62 minutes, stooped to try and head the ball clear, but instead headed it past helpless goalkeeper Pepe Reina and into the roof of his own net.
It gave Chelsea a share of the spoils they hardly deserved as Liverpool dominated for long periods but were denied by some outstanding saves from Cech.
With time almost up it looked as though the seventh meeting between the teams in the Champions League in the last four seasons was about to end in a 1-0 scoreline for the fourth time.
Instead this match became the first to produce two goals and leave the tie on a knife-edge with Chelsea the slight favourites to advance to the final in Moscow on May 21.
Barcelona and Manchester United open their semi-final battle at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
Although Chelsea started the brighter they failed to create any real scoring chances. Their best opportunity in the opening exchanges came after only three minutes when Didier Drogba saw his free-kick deflected to safety by the wall.
Joe Cole should have done better when he miscued a shot after being played clear by Frank Lampard.
As in the quarter-final second leg against Arsenal two weeks ago, Liverpool weathered the early storm and gradually began to take control of the game.
They began to force Chelsea on to the back foot and went close to taking the lead after 31 minutes when Cech made an outstanding save to deny Fernando Torres in front of the Kop.
The breakthrough eventually came two minutes before halftime after a sustained period of Liverpool pressure.
The move began with a quickly taken free kick by Xabi Alonso who found Kuyt.
His cross was headed clear by John Terry to Lampard who was dispossessed by Kuyt. The ball ran to Alonso who found Javier Mascherano, and his miscued shot beat Claude Makelele's attempted header, allowing Kuyt to fire through Cech's legs to put Liverpool ahead.
It was the third time he had scored in the knockout rounds after goals against Inter Milan and Arsenal and looked to have done enough to win the match.
Chelsea not only have Riise to thank, but also Cech who made a stunning late save to deny Steven Gerrard a goal with a brilliant dipping volley.
(Editing by Miles Evans)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this