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Blues old guard stands firm

sports Updated: Apr 20, 2012 01:57 IST

Didier Drogba scored late in the first half and Chelsea mixed luck with resolute defence to keep free-scoring Lionel Messi in check and defeat holders Barcelona 1-0 in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Barcelona dominated possession, hit the bar and the post and had what looked like a certain goal cleared off the line at a rain-lashed Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniards had 24 attempts on target compared to one by the hosts but Ivorian Drogba made the most of his sight of goal when he fired low and hard past Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Frank Lampard, who like Drogba, John Terry and Ashley Cole, have all been rejuvenated since Roberto Di Matteo took control of the side from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas in early March, began the move after winning the ball from a hesitant Messi close to halfway.

Raking pass
Lampard's raking pass found Brazilian Ramires whose low cross from the left eluded the Barca defenders with Drogba pouncing at the far post to score.

However, before and after the goal, Barca were the dominant force with Messi orchestrating most of their attacking moves, but for all his inspired brilliance, he was unable to conjure up a goal either for his team mates or himself. The Argentine forward, who has scored 63 goals for Barca this season, has now failed to score in seven matches against Chelsea.

Although this match was about far more than records and statistics, some telling numbers did emerge after a rainswept night in west London.

The loss was only Barcelona's third loss in 63 games this season and they have now failed to beat Chelsea in the last six matches against them and the Londoners are now unbeaten in 14 matches, home and away against Spanish opposition. Those figures could all have been very different if Barcelona had scored just once from the many chances they created.