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Cole fire heats up the Bridge

A first-half goal from Joe Cole gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

sports Updated: Apr 27, 2007 01:20 IST

A first-half goal from Joe Cole gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

An entertaining first half gave way to a scrappy second in which Liverpool came back into the game but could not find an equaliser, although the tie is still delicately poised for the second leg at Anfield next Tuesday.

England winger Cole swept in from six metres from Didier Drogba’s cross after 29 minutes. It was only Cole’s second goal of his injury-plagued season — and the first time Chelsea had scored against Liverpool in five Champions League meetings.

Liverpool, who left top scorer Peter Crouch on the bench until early in the second half, threatened sporadically. England midfielder Steven Gerrard went closest for Rafa Benitez’s side, his dipping left-foot volley well saved by Petr Cech after 53 minutes.

"It was (a game of) two different parts today. The first half we were not controlling... the second half a little bit better but when you play against Chelsea you know they like to counter-attack,” said Benitez. “We will see at Anfield... we need to score one goal and see what happens."

Cole’s goal came after almost half-an-hour of end-to-end football during which Chelsea created two early clear-cut chances.

The first fell to Frank Lampard after eight minutes when he was set up by a flighted Drogba header. Lampard reacted to the dropping ball first and volleyed in a ferocious shot which Pepe Reina blocked and cleared with a fine reflex save.

Andriy Shevchenko then turned and shot just over the bar. Chelsea's shouldn’t rest on their laurels at Anfield next week.