Iniesta’s Miracle Strike

IniestaEssien (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                                  Photo by ISIphotos.com

After more than 180 minutes without a goal in its Champions League semifinal series, FC Barcelona looked in danger of having its dream season ruined at the hands of Chelsea. At least before Andres Iniesta took on the role of hero and scored a game-winning goal for the ages.

You can argue about the referee all day, but nothing takes away from the brilliance and bravery of Iniesta's clutch finish.

Here it is for those of you who haven't seen it and for those of you who, like me, can't see it enough. Enjoy:

 

"Andres Iniesta is the God of soccer justice."

Now that's a line.

What did you think of Iniesta's goal? One of the most clutch goals you've ever seen? What was your reaction when it happened live? Is Iniesta your new favorite player?

Share your thoughts on Iniesta's goal and Barcelona's series victory in the comments section below.

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126 Responses to Iniesta’s Miracle Strike

  1. matt C says:

    Chelsea got what it deserved. It’s a two-leg match and Chelsea was content not to even try to an “away goal”. As many pundits will say, Barca’s win was a win for football.

  2. Pat says:

    It was soccer justice. Chelsea have no one to blame but themselves.

  3. mEtRo BoY 4eVer! says:

    chelsea is my 2nd fav. team. and I have got to say, im mad we lost but we deserve the loss. we should have put them away and we kept missing chances after chances after chances. its only a matta of time be4 we make one mistake on defense and barca scores. it was a good game. bad referee on both sides (more crucial missed calls for chelsea though) but at the end of the day, it was the players that werent finishing. barca vs manchester unt. will be one of the best matches to see, anxiious to see who wins.

  4. gmen04 says:

    Given the circumstances one of the most clutch goals i have ever seen, absolutely stunning finish. That it came away at Chelski even better. I hope Drogba and Ballack get a stiff fine, that utter disregard of sportsmanship was appalling

  5. Matt says:

    “Andres Iniesta is the God of soccer justice.”

    Nonsense. Ives your bias is showing.

  6. Kahlva says:

    Both goals were brilliant strikes.
    The ref was atrocious – he has no business working a semi-final. But there were bad calls on both sides. (what’s worse? Missed penalties or phantom red cards?)
    Chelsea gets punished for bunkering the first game.
    Soccer justice indeed.

  7. jai_brooklyn says:

    He’s had an unbelievable year. But that goal is going to cement his place as a barca legend.

  8. William the Terror says:

    Chelsea has no room to complain about the officiating. The Barca red card was weak, and Chelsea had 25 minutes plus injury time with a man advantage and could not get the job done. They did not play to win, the played to not lose, and it was a shameful performance. As much as I dislike Barca, Chelsea showed no heart and no balls. They will always be second or third best to mighty Manchester United. If you’re not a Manc, you’re a wank!

  9. Ives says:

    Matt, the line was uttered by the Spanish TV announcer on the clip. That wasn’t my line. Agree or disagree with the premise if you want, but that’s a good line.

  10. Michael F. - SBI Mafia Original says:

    Absolutely brilliant strike.
    I hate Chelsea but think they got screwed on 3 PK non-calls.
    Such is the world of football.

  11. Matt says:

    As a Chelsea fan I can definitively say that Iniesta is not my new favorite player. Yes, we are not all part of Ives’ big Barcelona fan club.

    Atrocious referee but saying that the decisions somehow evened out is a lazy argument that doesn’t hold any water.

    Hey Ives, how about some perspective on our local abortion of a team?

  12. RK says:

    Chelsea did get screwed on a few PK calls…but that red to Barca was just awful.

  13. Har says:

    I think I screamed like a little girl when it went in. I was going to boycott another ManUre-Chelski final…..

  14. gmonsoon43 says:

    I am a fan of ABC(Any Body but Chelsea), however I am surprised at how many calls there are of anti-football. I think the bigger story is how Barca are ineffective against more athletic teams. Even though soccer is the beautiful game it isn’t figure skating, you win with goals not style points. Barca would have only had themselves to blame for their style of play, it beat them last year. They were content to pass the ball all over the middle third with out really being affective going forward.

  15. Thank God for Iniesta. I did not want another Chelski vs. Man Utd final.

  16. Felix says:

    I echo the sentiments of other posters on here about not having to see another Man U vs Chelsea final. Now we are getting a great final.

    There were definitely some calls there that could have been penalties for Chelsea (and one for Barcelona too) but the referee let them play and despite it all, Chelsea still had some good chances from counterattacks that they did not put away. They have no one to blame but themselves. They played for the tie away, and even at home chose to defend and counterattack than go at Barca, even after the red card on Abidal, Chelsea still played 10 behind the ball!! Pathetic by such a big club. You can’t let Barca hold the ball for that long and not expect them to score one brilliant goal.

  17. Isaac says:

    After being underrated during the Euro, this goal basically spat in the face of his haters.

  18. Luke in NC says:

    I’m definitely in the no-all-English-final group. Its just boring to have a non-international final in an international competition. Chelsea-ManU would’ve been a good game, no doubt, but Barca-ManU has far more appeal. However, after this semi-final how many people will pick barcelona?

  19. PTM9 says:

    It’s great for football that a creative team has triumphed and a bunch of English goons with no interest in playing positive football have been dumped out of the CL. Chelski was up a man for 25 minutes but still retreated into a defensive shell. The red card was not justified (yes, the ref was bad, but he was bad both ways.) Drogba had a 1-1 with Valdez and got stopped.
    Just like Spain’s triumph in the last Euros, the better team won, and every once in a while there is a game/tournament that restores your faith in the sport.
    It’s poetic that the most kicked player scored the goal for Barca. Essien’s stamp on him deserved a straight red. He could have broken his leg.
    It’s poetic that the kings of floppers, Ballack and Drogba cried loudest after the game. They were the disgrace, and their conduct was unacceptable. This season the English FA is running a “Respect Programme” aimed at promoting better behavior toward referees. I guess Chelski didn’t get the memo. The FA and UEFA should ban them for a long long time. Hiddink should be banned forever from UEFA for his comments about conspiracy.
    Hiddink’s tactics won for 179 minutes, but his strategry failed. Jogo bonito won out.

  20. Pico says:

    Ives,

    There is a great analysis by the man himself Johan Cruyff about why Chelsea deserved to loose, referee performance aside. You can Babelfish the following link:

    link to elperiodico.com

    Also, I got to watch the game in both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. It seemed like two completely different games being narrated. Do you also write for the later one?

    Cheers

  21. Gino says:

    Did Ballack turn his back and duck?

  22. Pat says:

    The calls didn’t even out. Barca had to play for 30 minutes down a man, in a match they were carrying, because Anelka caught his toe in the ground.

    That wasn’t even a foul let alone a red card.

  23. elmatador says:

    gmonsoon43,

    Barcelona can play against “more athletics teams” if that’s what you want to call, 11 man defending their goal and not attacking or playing attractive football. Chelsea are like robots, and Man U got lucky last year like chelsea almost did this year by a goal from outside (scholes and essien) and then retrieve and defend…why you think that Brazil has 3 Club world cup titles against this power houses of europe? Jogo Bonito my friend…

  24. Luke in NC says:

    You people who are using this match as an example of Spanish superiority over English football (or vice versa) are retarded. THEY TIED TWO GAMES. Hate one style or the other all you want….but it could easily be either one of these teams in the final.

  25. Andy in Atlanta says:

    I think Hiddink was not nearly as robust in saying conspiracy to be fair. He was upset and they did have several penalties not given but the red card was a joke and Henry should have had a penalty in the first leg… This all being said… the side that plays attractive football won and Drogba is a fricking a$$wipe, so glad to see him lose.

  26. Bill says:

    Upon re-watching the goal, I’ve noticed how Essien flubbed the clearance. Wow. Maybe it was the “Dios de la justicia del futbol,” given how Essien was having a great game up to that point.

  27. kevin says:

    Generally speaking I like Barca. No corporate sponsor, Catalonian independence, good football, etc. But this year, all this hype about Barca this, Barca that, Spanish league is better than EPL…I feel like they still have something to prove. So for some reason, I wanted Chelsea to win. Crap calls aside, Chelsea had their chances to put this game away and to sit on it with a man advantage. Not the fairest comparison, but this Barca team would have a very tough time winning the EPL, don’t you think?

    Looking ahead, as a Man Utd fan, I would rather play Barca than Chelsea at this point, too. Absorb the pressure and counter. The Barca defense will have problems with Man Utd’s aerial presence as well as containing Rooney and Ronaldo.

  28. Danny says:

    I knew going into the final minutes of the game Barce would come up with something…I mean there was no way Barce would finish the match without a shot on goal…When Iniesta scored I just jumped out of my seat lol…I wanted to cry for both teams, and I don’t even support them lol…But if that was my Benfica out there then I would be crying like a baby LMAO

  29. brant says:

    While I hate that the ref had such an influence on the game, I am glad we are spared *another* Chelsea snooze-fest in the finals.

  30. Agree Luke. The fact that English teams have been top dogs in Europe for the last few years doesn’t mean that the English style is superior anymore than Spain’s good run earlier in the decade meant that the Spanish approach to defending was inherently better.

    You can rightly criticize Chelsea for not being more ambitious, especially against 10 men. But that style of futbol nearly won out (and has won out before a number of times against Barcelona– think Liverpool, Man U and, yes, Chelsea over the past few years). Of course, if you ask me which style I prefer, it’s no contest…

  31. Rocco says:

    I have to echo Andy’s question. It sure looked like a duck to me. If it looks like a duck, and misses clutch blocks like a duck…

  32. Isaac says:

    I understand Drogba wasn’t exactly classy after the game, but who WOULDN’T be livid after how many bad calls there were? All the hate for Didier Drogba on this site pisses me off. Drogba works his ass off and does the dirty work so that Chelsea can get the results they do in the final third. He dives yes but I mean Thierry Henry does the same thing. Like in the World cup, France vs Spain him and Puyol chasing the ball and he falls over like Puyol has hit him in the face, but he’s not even touched him. Every striker, at least in Europe, does this sort of thing. Drogba does plenty of things other than dive and without him the Chelsea attack would be without real verve.

  33. Rocco says:

    I mean Gino’s question not Andy.

  34. Cam says:

    One of the few times ever that a sporting event brought tears to my eyes. Barcelona deserved the victory and they’re going to take it all.

  35. Turtle says:

    I love this quuote from Iniesta:

    ”If it had been in the fifth minute I would have hit it into the stands but I struck it with my whole soul and it went in the only place it could. Until the whistle has blown you have to believe.”

    He hit it with his whole soul…great line.

    Elmatador – thanks for you post :)

    A dubious red card with 25 minutes to play, putting Chelsea up a man, against a team with a make shift back line but still only one goal from the home side? C’mon Chelsea supporters…get over the bad ref and come to realize that they simply didn’t get the job done. No conspiracy, no favoritism. They were even afraid of Barca with 10 men. Barca is the better team. Period.

  36. Chris May says:

    How can anyone think the Red card was the wrong call?

    Did you not watch the replay to see that he clipped Anelka’s legs causing him to trip?

    Did you not realize that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity?

    Do you not know the rules of soccer?

    What is it?

  37. dwbpnm says:

    I was rooting for Barcelona because they do play a more attractive game. But they were shown to clearly be the weaker team in this tie and didn’t deserve to advance. Holding the ball and outplaying a team are two completely different things. Its what you do with the ball once you have it. Barcelona had the ball for 65% of the time over the course of the two games yet Chelsea had at least 6 or 7 great chances for every one that Barca created. That said all credit to Iniesta for taking his chance and sending Barca through to what should be a great final. Barca is going to have to try and win 4-3 since their already weak backline is going to be missing 3 out of 4 starters.

  38. Chris May says:

    I really don’t like Chelsea, but for all the talk of how Barca play great attacking soccer, you realize they didn’t have a single shot on goal, and not a single solid chance for 90 minutes.

    Chelsea had a dozen chances, and should have had at least 3 goals from the run of play if Drogba was finishing (and probably another 3 from penalties).

    Great game though.

  39. Turtle says:

    Man oh man that was a great goal. I can barely stop watching it. From the dangerous cross by Alves (who moments before sent in one of the worst I’ve ever seen)to the set up by Messi. It was flicked with the perfect pace – enough to prevent Chelsea defenders from adjusting, and not too much for Iniesta. And the finish was so rediculously clinical.

    Gorgeous goal.

  40. EA says:

    It has less to do with conspiracy and more to do with poor officiating.

    There were numerous missed penalties that would have benefitted Chelsea (namely, the foul against Malouda, blatant handling by Piquet, and to a lesser extent, the shirt tug on Drogba, and possible handball against Eto’o.)

    That said, the red card on Abidal was an absolute farce. (Much like the red that Eto’o drew in the CL Final in ’06.)

    In a game that important, you really hate to see officiating be THAT suspect.

    I didn’t mind watching the clash of styles yesterday. I thought it added tension to the game.

    In the end, as a Chelsea fan, one point needs to be made, regardless of the outcome…

    Poor officiating MAY cost you a game. Poor finishing MAY cost you a game. Suspect strategy MAY cost you a game.

    Combine any of those elements, and you WILL lose.

    And they did.

  41. Northzax says:

    El matador: with all due respect, Brasil has five titles, all coming against Europeans (Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Italy, Germany) Italy, of course has four playing catanaccio (czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, France) so there’s not such a big difference. And two of those Brasil teams involved that Pele fellow, he was pretty good. The last one features a very un-Brasil defense. Brilliant passing is fun to watch, but brilliant defense wins titles (ask the Brilliant Orange Dutch about that)

    It may not be as ‘attractive’ but watching a team that scores four goals a match get held to one in two is something to see. Guus outcoached Pep. If it was that easy, everyone would pack the box against Barca and at least tie them at home. But no one else, besides tiny Numancia, has shut them out in 50 games. Sorry if it offended anyone’s delicate sensibilities, but it came a lot closer to working than anything else tried against Barca this year. Chelsea got into their heads, and save for iniesta, yaya toure and valdes, Barca folded like a cheap suit. Xavi, messi, dani alves, Eto’o- no heart in any of them I think it would have been different with Henry out there. I think Ronaldo just became the front runner for player of the year, it’s time for Messi to gut check and decide if he wants it back. If Ronaldo scores in Rome, and messi is a non-factor again, the decision is made, no matter how pretty Messi played in Spain.

  42. Master of the Obvious says:

    dwbpnm – so do you believe Guatamala should be in the hex instead of the USA? Because that’s basically your argument. remember the saves Howard had to make in that game? Do think Guatamala is the better team? Let’s not get carried away by the fact that Chelsea is a top 4 club in England. They are clearly the inferior team and the tactics they felt necessary to employ only prove that point. Chelsea is to Barca as Guatamala is to USA.

  43. Turtle says:

    Northzax – he said club titles not world cups

  44. Aljarov says:

    I think Chelsea can quite rightly blame the ref. They played a pretty much perfect tactical match against what is a superior side in Barca.

    The ref robbed them of 4 good PK shouts (and they would only have needed one to put this one to bed).

    Barca scored on their only shot on goal.

    How is that justice?

    (PS I hate Chelsea as a SPurs fan, and am looking forward to the final….but it wasn’t justice of any kind).

  45. elmatador says:

    kevin,

    “this Barca team would have a very tough time winning the EPL, don’t you think?”

    let me see…yes, yes they would, with opponents making all 11 players defend each game, yes.

  46. Smacking says:

    As excited as I am that it will be Barca in the final, I have to state my displeasure for the away goal rule. Two ties shouldn’t equal a win, at least not in the late rounds. It’s hard to see past the fact that this was a fantastic match-up that ended 1-1.

    Perhaps a seeding system based on points gathered throughout the tourney could determine home-field-advantage for the Quarters and Semis.

  47. Tom P says:

    Best team both in terms of tactics and execution on the day and over the 2 matches lost do to terrible refereeing.

    Best thing for the Champions league came to pass and I am sure Plantini and Blatter(because he hates english football) wet their collective pants when that beautiful Iniesta strike went in.

    As a complete neutral I would say it was a push. I just hope the final can come close to the build up and Barca fans should thank god Marquez is out and YaYa Toure is in. ( Love that name-YaYa)

  48. Dave says:

    Hey North, I understand you are still fuming about the loss, but try to maintain at least some objectivity. Messi is the leading scorer in the champions league, doubling ronaldo, he is 2nd or 3rd in spain, and has scored twice and assisted twice in WC qualifying for Argentina.

    Chelsea’s #1 game plan in their “hand-ball” defense was to crowd out Messi-and frankly, to say that he didn’t play w/ any heart over the ties is ridiculous. You wanna say that about Eto’o-fine, I won’t disagree, but Messi did everything he could to get involved in both matches-often coming back to the half line to collect the ball-but Chelsea defended him brilliantly-2 matches w/out pts against one of the strongest defensive sides in the world does not remove him from contention for World Player of the Year-give me a break buddy.

    And let’s not forget that it was Messi who laid out the red carpet for Iniestas GOLAZO!

  49. dwbpnm says:

    Master of the Obvious One game the Guatemala outplayed the US and then the US completely outplayed Guatemala with its B team. So I’m not sure what your point is.
    Outplaying a team once can be a fluke. Doing it twice begins to show a trend. And this is exactly what Chelsea did. In the first game they played the same tactics and generated the best chance of the game. And yesterday the generated the 5 or 6 best chances of the game. Over the course of the two games they showed themselves to have a more dangerous attack and a superior defense (held a team that just put 6 by Madrid to 1 shot on goal). The fact of the matter is that if either Drogba finishes half his chances or the ref calls clear penalties Chelsea would have won this tie 4 or 5 to 1 and we’d all be talking about how dominant Chelsea was. But once again Iniesta deserves all the credit for not folding like many of his teammates did.

  50. A.S. says:

    A complete fraud and utter joke.

    Barca should be ashamed to show up in Rome, with a completely undeserved victory.

    Kudos to Guus Hiddink, who designed perfect tactics to defeat an excellent opponent. Unfortunately for Guus, it is difficult to win when the other side has the referee with them.

  51. Brando says:

    I love how the “clear PK” shouts keep rising . First two, then three, then four. Delusional. Barca is the better team, as evidenced by the ridiculous tactics Chelsea employed. Had they grown a pair in the final 25 minutes and actually attacked, they would have won…especially seeing how suspect Barcelona’s back line was. Chelsea dug their own grave.

  52. Dave says:

    Some of the posters on here have it right on-Chelsea were up a man for 30 minutes and could not put the game away…it’s that simple-put it away and it doesn’t matter what the ref does.

    I could see the anger if the ref disallowed a goal or something that was clearly in-but that’s just not the case here.

  53. elmatador says:

    A.S,

    I can see the low standards you have for the game of soccer

  54. Maxwell's Silver Hammer says:

    Dave, look at where Messi’s and Ronaldo’s goals have been though…Ronaldo shows up in the big games (2 goals in the semi-finals, for example), while Messi didn’t make much of an impact against Chelsea. Sure he made the easy square ball to Iniesta for the goal but any player in professional football can make that pass (not to mention it probably never should’ve happened, as Essien completely whiffed on the clearance).

    I’ll be rooting for Messi to show up and make a statement in the CL Final but let’s not pretend he’s made more of an impact than Ronaldo. Also, maybe if Messi and the rest of Barcelona shot more from 18 yards out, instead of trying to dribble the ball into the net, they wouldn’t have needed a last minute goal to advance.

  55. Kevin says:

    I’ll agree that Barca could well win the EPL, but it is debatable and far from a guarantee, Senor El Matador.

    Messi didn’t do jack against Chelsea. The pass to Iniesta was an assist technically but far from a thing of beauty. Compare that to last year’s semi against Man Utd when Messi was one of the only players to threaten Man Utd. Iniesta was a real threat, though.

  56. Dave says:

    who cares where the goals have been? are you kidding me? That’s a head scratcher.

    Did you read anything i wrote? Read my post before writing something like that.

    HE HAS SCORED 8 GOALS IN THE CHAMPS LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RONALDO HAS SCORED 4.

    Is there any way to spell it out more clearly than that?

    I’m glad you’ll be rooting for messi, I will be too.

  57. Kevin says:

    First off, I am not saying this game was fixed.

    But how many of you out there, and Ives in particular, I would love to hear your comments, think top matches get fixed? It is a fact that matches get fixed. Bribes or gambling influence, it happens. So do you believe that top CL or WC matches get fixed? If so, is it an official like Sepp Blatter telling the ref, “hey, no all English final again, OK?”

  58. Andrew says:

    Thank God.

  59. Maxwell's Silver Hammer says:

    Dave, calm down there buddy, it actually has a lot to do with it. Would you rather have player score 5 times in the group stage against obvious weaker opponents or 2 times in a knockout round? There’s no doubt all goals count, but just ask Ibrahimavic if scoring on the big stage isn’t important. Is there any way I can spell it out more clearly than that?

  60. MM says:

    I’m an ardent Premier fan. But Barca won the game. Chelsea did not play the whole game, they let their guard down in the waning minutes when Iniesta had a clear shot. So to say Chelsea played the whole game is rubbish, I’ve seen hundreds of derbies where the winner was outplayed the whole game yet still won in the final seconds because the dominating team had thought they’d won and let their guard down at the end.

    To blame the referee is childish and sophmoric, to call him profanities is even worse, to send death threats is beyond comprehension. Chelsea left the game like school children (with exception to John Terry and a few others). There were just as many missed calls for Barca in both legs. Abidal’s red card was a total miss which changed the complexion of the game even more.

    To say the ref ruined the game? If he had called every call, then everyone would say he ruined the game with too much control. If he called half of the lot, then even more bias. Stop blaming the ref. Let the players play, and act like gents.

    There is one goodresult here:
    Maybe (whishfully thinking?) FIFA president Sepp Blatter will quit trying to regulate English football.

    (Ives, comment on Blatter?)

  61. DS says:

    This is what happens when you defend for a 180 mins. Can’t stand teams that do that.

  62. DS says:

    Guus tactics weren’t “great,” defend all game and get lucky (That’s essien did, got lucky). Messi didn’t do anything, true, but how could he, there we three on him every time he got the ball, and by the way, he completely made Cole look like a slow and inept defender. Yeah the ref was bad, but he was bad both ways and we all know, at the end of the day, it’s not the red, it’s the team, the ref thing is just an excuse. The thing that sucks now, is that Barca is going to Rome short handed.
    Peace.

  63. caseys32 says:

    What’s going to hurt more, no Abidal or Alves for Barca or no Fletcher for Untied?

  64. BCC says:

    I have never in my life seen a bigger pack of sore losers. The spirit of The Special One lives on.

    You lost. Try to show the tiniest bit of class.

  65. DS says:

    And for those saying Blatter fix this, gambling that, come on, get a clue. Do you really think this type of a finish was rigged? Good one.

  66. Dave says:

    Look guy, the bottom line is you ignored what I wrote, I acknowledged that Chelsea defended him brilliantly-but I guess that means that the CL quarterfinals and first knock-out rounds are not big games, or the classico against Madrid, or the Olympics, or WC qualifying, or the Copa del Rey. Yes, Messi had 1 pt over the 2 legs against Chelsea, but to somehow extrapolate that and claim that he’s not a big-game player as a result is just plain silly, and that’s all there is to it-which is why EVERYONE-including the English press, know he’s the best player in the world.

    Ronaldo is fantastic, and if he plays better than Messi in the final, then perhaps the pendulum will swing back his way, but right now Messi es numero uno.

  67. Rafael says:

    Chelsea can cry all they want. Their tactics failed them. End of story. See you next year.

    Barca, we will see you in Rome!

  68. Chris says:

    Just a comment on the Youtube clip here. I don’t speak Spanish and normally when I hear Spanish commentary during matches I usually find it annoying and too over the top. However in this case during this clip it sounds awesome. The English commentary on just made it sound like the match was over for so much of the game. From what we hear in this clip the announcers are into it. Was this from the broadcast in Spain? The logo says Canal rather than ESPN so I guess it’s not a feed for the Americas. Would explain why they were so excited.

  69. orange315 says:

    Essien’s goal was better, just not as important

  70. ignoramus says:

    Chris–
    I agree that this clip captures the spirit of the moment much better than the English broadcast. Plus Ives is right– what a great line. I, for one, can’t remember the last time I saw such a wild scene. The whole thing was just incredible. Soccer is the only sport I find compelling even when I don’t care who wins– like this match-up– and this was the perfect example of why that is. It’s not just a game, it’s a referendum on an entire philosophy of life… or something like that. What a goal. What a game.

  71. madmax says:

    Iniesta has been playing incredible football all year, but is often over shadowed by Mesi etal.

    Pep will have problems in the final besides his decimated back line. Eto’o was invisible this game often shying away from contact and the ball. Kieta looks well over-matched at this level. If Pep can solve these three issues, it should be a great final.

  72. Dave says:

    madmax, totally agree. Eto’o has been off his game for a few weeks now…not sure what’s going on w/ him-needs a fire lit under his you know what. And Keita looked way out of his depth in this match-Busquets got pretty bad reviews from most yesterday-but I actually thought he was FAR superior to Keita-aside from the one bad mistake giving up the ball to lampard which almost led to a goal. Keita consistently gave the ball away and did not impress at all in the tackle as he usually does.

  73. Aguinaga says:

    UNBELIEVABLE FINISH. Are you kidding me Chelsea fans? Are you effing kidding me?? The ref sucked for both teams, no argument there. Horrible, horrible reffing, I don’t think anyone can dispute that. But Chelsea fans have to blame their team first and foremost. Namely because even with 10 men, they were afraid to play! Was that the ref’s fault too? What gives?? Great teams finish off wounded opponents. Every single title winning team has that killer instinct when they sense blood. But what Chelsea did by going ultra conservative was give Barca repeated attempts at cracking the shell, when leaving Drogba in, taking advantage of the extra player (what did Belletti do??), and having faith in Chelsea’s offensive advantage at that point would’ve seen another Chelsea / ManU final. That’s where Hiddink was wrong for once, and what gave Iniesta the chance to become legend. Chelsea played with incredible discipline and spirit, undeniably. And to have the result denied to them in that way was the cruelest possible way to lose. But I believe the team that wanted it more, that was physically smaller but technically superior, and they team that played absolutely fearlessly won, even shorthanded. Sure sounds like justice to me. Gods of futbol indeed. ps Individually, I think Pique for MOTM. Even the announcers had no idea where he would come from next, he was absolutely everywhere , especially in those last 20 mins.

  74. HomeyBoehme says:

    So glad I do not have to watch a Chelsea Man U final again.

  75. Ben says:

    He made one shot, why should he be my new favorite player? He should be cleaning my pool. But, I’m glad that we are going to be able to witness a ManU-Barca final. They are by far the two most talented teams in Europe. Hopefully it will be an open game, and they don’t play too cagey.

  76. brad j says:

    There were so many mistakes by the refs in this series that it’s impossible to even say what ifs. Ives, you and Johann Cruff have taken the position of “forget the refs.” There is a LOT of merit in that and certainly the most mature approach to this series.

    But the question I have is when will FIFA, UEFA, and the other governing bodies decide to raise the level of referring–make it professional. Yes, mistakes will always continue to be made by all humans involved in the sport. But by adding officiating error to the equation, close games become a crap shoot. Players, coaches, managers from teams are always under pressure to raise their games. It’s time pressure be put on FIFA and UEFA, MLS to raise their game as well, and make positive changes to ensure the game is called as evenly and consistently as possible so that it’s players, coaches, managers, etc that decide games.

  77. Anthony R. says:

    I asked the question a couple of weeks ago with respect to Iniesta being the last guy you want coming at you with the ball. Well, he didn’t have to dribble at all, but what a shot!!!

  78. MVK says:

    hopefully this will help the push for putting another offical on the field

  79. Northzax says:

    Please, Ronaldo is the second leading scorer in the epl, playing against defenses that do that every week. Not all of Chelsea’s quality, of course.

    And of course Sir Alex is going to copy those tactics, they obviously work, with better finishing (which man utd has) Rooney and Ronaldo don’t miss all those opportunities. He’d be a fool to do anything else. And he is not a fool.

  80. Kris says:

    Wow what a bunch of Chelsea haters. I hate how people think tradition warrants justice over being good by buying good players. I hate the ManU/Liverpool/Arsenal/RealMadrid/Juve/Barca fanboys just as much as you guys hate Chelsea. It’s pointless to use that as a reason to hate on Chelsea.

    Simply put:

    – Chelsea generally was screwed out of the match. No way around it. 3 non PK calls is considerably less fair than a red card.

    – However, Chelsea acted very classless. I agree.

    – In the end, every argument I’ve read regarding whether “better football” or the “more deserving team” won has been lame. There is almost as less objectivity in sports as there is in politics.

    This is for the same reason why everyone hated on Hoffenhiem: “They don’t deserve to be that good because they haven’t been that good in the past.” Those arguments are lame.

  81. Northzax says:

    as for the tactics failing Chelsea, those tactics are what gave them a shot to win. It’s pathetic finishing that failed then. In a one-one series, Drogba had two one-on-one breakaways with Valdes. If you were Guus running up to this series, wouldn’t you take those odds? There were at least five times in this series that Drogba, a world class finisher most of the time, had the ball in the box against either the keeper or one defender. That’s all you can hope for as a manager, pathetic finishing and inspired goalkeeping was the difference there.

  82. Rastafari says:

    Chelsea played two of the ugliest games back to back that I’ve ever witnessed in CL. -regardless the Ref was standing right there with the drag down in the box.. blatantly too obvious it was inside the line.

    The Londoners were robbed.

    On to the Final..

  83. Arthur Spooner says:

    Does anyone else think Iniesta looks like Donovan?

  84. since when does beautiful football only manage one shot on goal?

    a fine strike it was, but really. a lot of barca bias on this thread.

  85. kevin says:

    Poor officiating doesn’t even itself out, it’s just poor officiating. The idea that one bad red card somehow equals 3 missed pentaly kick decisions is a bit of wishful thinking.

    Ask any team. Would you rather be up a man or get 3 penalty kicks? I’m pretty sure most would rather have the PKs. Of course that being said I don’t think there were really 3 (of 5 as guus claims) bad PK decisions. Maybe 1 or 2 but that’s still 1 or 2 too many.

  86. Dave says:

    North, agree w/ your last post-it was those tactics that gave Chelsea a chance to win and the difference was poor finishing and/or great goalkeeping depending on how you look at it.

    The thing w/ the ref: regardless of how you shake out on the math or comparison betw. the red card and the pk misses over both legs, it is undeniable that Chelsea were a MAN UP FOR 30 minutes on their HOME GROUND. Score a goal and this discussion is irrelevant-So for all the Hiddink man-crushing-and I do agree that he is the best manager in the world-he should have changed tactics for the end of the game-pushed Chelsea up to a higher line on the pitch and went for the juggular-instead, Barca took control of the match for the first time really, and w/ a man down, and there isn’t much to be said about lil Andres-absolutely orgasmic finish.

  87. john in atl says:

    Arthur, I totally agree. Landon Iniesta = Andres Donovan. :)

  88. A.S. says:

    “Does anyone else think Iniesta looks like Donovan?”

    Only when he’s not playing soccer.

  89. Mark H says:

    There were some bad calls so I have sympathy with Chelsea on that regard. If it had happened to my beloved team I would’ve been dispondant.

    However there is absoulte NO PLACE in football for the actions of Ballack and Drogba. I don’t care what the Ref did. And to have to smuggle the Referee out of the country after the match (after the whole Anders Frisk debacle a few years back) is an embarassment for English football.

    The referee was horrible all around but for those looking for the real answer as to why Chelsea lost, they can look no further than Chelsea themselves.

    -Chelsea went to the Nou Camp and played a defensive game, successfully keeping a clean sheet 0-0. However with that scoreline you open yourself up to exactly what happened last night

    -Didier Drogba can whinge and complain about penalties and disgraces but the biggest disgrace was his two brutal misses over the course of the tie. His early miss in the 1st leg and his miss just before halftime in the second. Arguably either one of those strikes being hit would’ve been the goal needed.

    -Guus Hiddink grabbed the goal that would put Chelsea through early on then sat on the lead. Sure Chelsea had some chances on the counter but to sit back for 80 minutes as one of the best attacking teams in football attempt to unlock you is just asking for exactly what happened. And then after being handed a gift with Abidal’s dismissal Hiddink replaces one of his strikers (supposedly the better one) with a defensive player.

    So at the end of the day, Chelsea have nobody to blame but themselves. All that talent, one of the better midfield’s in Europe and they tried to sneak into the finals.

  90. DC Josh says:

    Iniesta is the epitome of calm, cool, and collected. He is an amazing player. Him and Xavi make up the best center mid pairing in the world. I am jealous the US will never have that much talent in the middle of the pitch.

    I’m not a fan of either team. I would have loved to have seen a Man U/Chelsea Champions League re-match. But this will suffice. Barca won’t be full strength on defense, but their offense will hopefully.

  91. Zoti says:

    I wanted Chelsea to win (so United can beat then again in the final) but was glad Barca went through. To say that Barca failed against a “superior physical” team is utter nonsense. Chelsea bunkered for 180 minutes and in the first 90 it was Czech’s spectacular saves that kept them in contention. Lowly Albania managed to draw in Portugal playing for 60 minutes with one man down but that’s because we bunkered for the whole 90 not because of our “superior physical” abilities.

    This will be one great final. United wins on penalties.

  92. DS says:

    HAHA, the funny thing is, Essien scored a hell of a goal, the made the crappiest clearance to Messi, who then drew THREE Chelsea players leaving Iniesta wide open. Great tactics.

  93. DS says:

    then*

  94. jai_brooklyn says:

    Onto the final! Alves, Abidal are going to be missed. But Puyol, Pique and Ya Ya still there. Hopefully, Henry will be back for the final. Should be a cracker!

  95. It’s a fair question to ask how Barca could be playing attacking soccer when they only had one shot on goal.

    Well, how do you define attacking soccer? For me, attacking soccer is when you’ve got players willing to stroke the ball around, beat defenders on the dribble and when you commit defenders forward.

    Barca was doing those things. There was panic in the Chelsea defense whenever Messi got the ball, and he skinned them a number of times. Alves was getting into the attack regularly. This sounds like (and is) attacking soccer.

    But good god, Barca wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Each time Messi beat a defender, he lofted a garbage cross. Alves got into great situations but similarly squandered each and every one of them. *That’s* how you play attacking soccer and still only have one shot on goal. Chelsea defended well, but they were playing a dangerous game. Barca was *always* just one good ball away from scoring. It’s a testament to how good Chelsea are that they pretty much stopped that final, good ball, but Chelsea’s strength doesn’t Barca wasn’t attacking for almost the entire game.

  96. Tony says:

    Barca was lucky to escape this one and I’d be surprised if Man U didn’t walk all over them.

    Chelsea played a bunkered style, with 11 men behind the ball most of the time, but Barca was utterly clueless as to how to deal with it. Rather than a) going with speed when they had numbers b) switching the point of attack with passes (instead of dribbling) or c) taking more shots on goal, Barca just dinked the ball around, trying to walk it across the goal line.

    Iniesta’s goal was magic, but the dude passed up a half dozen obvious opportunities to put the ball on the frame earlier in the game. Maybe those shots go in, maybe they create a dangerous deflection. We’ll never know. He was utterly useless on the ball in the attacking third up until the end of the game.

    If Barca doesn’t learn how to adapt a bit to the in-game tactics of their opponent, United will destroy them. I hope they figure it out, as I’d like to see a decent final… but I’m not hopeful.

  97. Jimmy Bobo says:

    “Andres Iniesta is the God of futbol Justice.” Guys, that is not what the announcer said. He said: “It wasn’t Andres Iniesta. It was the God of futbol justice.” He was making the bigger point that the God of futbol justice mandated that the better team should go through.

  98. Kevin says:

    The goal was ridiculous, but I don’t know about the most clutch goal I’ve ever seen. Happy for Iniesta and Barca.

  99. jimmyfloyd says:

    Chelsea outplayed them over two legs. Hiddink’s tactics made Pep look like the rookie that he is. Taking nothing away from Iniesta’s goal- both his and Essien’s strikes were top class, but Barca did nothing to adapt in either game. ZERO shots on goal all game and everyone is thrilled to see Barca in the finals? As much as it pains me to say it, United will take them apart at the seams.

  100. Koko says:

    Here’s my question: Why is Ives all over Barca’s crotch? It’s getting a bit tiresome.

    My favorite Barca crotch jockey moment of late came in his poll on how the match would finish and the options were: “Barca win in a blowout,” “Barca win,” “Barca draw (and win),” “Chelsea win.”

    Hmm, so it wasn’t possible for Chelsea to win in a blowout? Funny, because that’s what the result would have been yesterday minus the worst officiating in the history of mankind.

  101. teh Conde says:

    can the Guus and the ref play in the final?

    because they were the best two players out there for Barca

  102. madmax says:

    Guus, not crossing the mid-field stripe but once in the first tie no longer looks like genius?

  103. tim says:

    Seriously, Ives and many other posters here, are absolutely all over Barca’s nutsack, even when they deserve to lose. Like someone said earlier, this isnt ice skating, you get points for goals not for style. Chelsea smothered Barca the entire game, got robbed by the ref, and didnt advance because of an away goal.

    What a joke. Dont even talk about being up a man. Thats ridiculous, any Chelsea player/fan would have been glad to keep that player on the field in exchange for those PKs.

  104. Erik says:

    Watching Chelsea play over the course of the semifinal reminded me of the old Italian teams who just played defense and hoped to win 1-0. This tactic NEVER works at the highest levels.

    Poor Guus – ANOTHER semifinal loss…

    Holland – WC 98
    South Korea – WC 02
    Chelsea – UCL 09

    I am glad Barca went through. Now we get a true “Champions League” final, not a Champions versus 3rd place of the same league final.

    All of the whining from the Chelsea supporters confirms why I hate the team and their style of play and attitude. Every time something doesn’t go their way, this over the top “we deserved it more” attitude settles in. Football isn’t about who deserved it, it’s about who puts the ball in the back of the net. In this case, Barca wins on away goals and the rest is history.

    Good riddance Chelsea with your overpaid athletes and piss poor attitudes.

  105. Dave says:

    oy ve, it’s like a broken record w/ your line of reasoning Tim. Why did Barca deserve to lose? Because the referee didn’t MAKE some decisions FOR Chelsea? I’m a Barca fan, but I just can’t agree w/ this thinking. You were a man up for 30 minutes on your home ground, how do you respond to that? ANSWER THAT QUESTION? The ref didn’t take any goals AWAY from you, he just didn’t award you any penalties. And Barca didn’t score on some “cheap” goal, they scored a FANTASTIC goal w/out any tint of unfairness to it.

    The whining is UNBELIEVABLE.

    One thing I will agree with. I was very disappointed in Pep’s inability to employ a Plan “B” against Chelsea. It was obvious that they were going to play the same game as at the Camp Nou but on a smaller pitch, w/ more initiate to attack on the counter-pretty much exactly what they did. But Barca HAD no answer. And yes, it was largely down to ineffective passing and penetration in the final third-I mean Alves wasted about 10 crosses, only to produce a gem on the last one. But the scheme overall was woefully ineffective.

    ManU will do the same thing-just as they did last year in the semis, and look to spring Ronaldo, Rooney and Co. on the counter. And ManU have an even stronger central pairing-so what is Pep to do? You can’t just say we are going to keep attacking when that obviously didn’t work-time for a plan B…

  106. Army of Dad says:

    Why all the Barca love? They seemed content to foul any attacking player that got near their own penalty area. The handballs were pretty bad and at least one of those should have been whistled.

    Drag down an attacker on the break, in and around the box, knock down shots and passes with your arms…NOT beautiful!

  107. Jeff says:

    Disclaimer: I’m a past Barcelona resident and huge Barca fan.

    I damn near dropped my newborn baby when Iniesta scored. My wife grabbed him from me as I cavorted about the living room like a madman with my delirious, brainwashed, Barca-loving 5-year-old daughter dancing with me.

    That being said, the ref was indeed horrible and Chelsea should have had one penalty FOR SURE (the Pique hand ball); Chelsea had numerous other opportunities though – the Chelsea players need look only in the mirror to find those most responsible for not progressing.

  108. jimmyfloyd says:

    “All of the whining from the Chelsea supporters confirms why I hate the team and their style of play and attitude.” Which style of play do you hate exactly, the style that put up 7 goals against Liverpool (a far superior team to Barca) or the one who held the infallible Barca to 1 goal? Seems to me that Chelsea can adapt, and the Catalans have only one game plan. From what we saw yesterday, I think Barca were the weakest team left. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, United would have been a far more appropriate grouping.

    Don’t hate anybody Eric, we are just having a discussion.

  109. HomeyBoehme says:

    There is a difference between ball to hand and a handball (where a player deliberately plays the ball with his hand). I did not see a deliberate handball in any of the “missed penalties” the entire game.

    @Dave – well said.

  110. Northzax says:

    Jimmy: and should we refer to last week’s game thread? Certainly no whining from Barca supporters there about the mean Chelsea players and the bad reffing…

  111. Alex says:

    SOmeone needs to tell Chelsea’s defensive coordinator that all the pre-vent defense does is PREVENT you from winning!!! Horrible it shouldn’t have come down to the PK’s or the red card they need to finish their chances, they rushed everything, and I’ll say it again ashley cole is garbage!!I hate the away goals rule, its so stupid, so stupid I’ll never like it, there should have been overtime. You should have to win to go to the championship game.

  112. Dave says:

    The only thing I complained (ok whined) about last week was Hiddink’s slight of hand. The day before the match he said it was going to be a “goalfest.” Obviously he had absolutely NO intention of actually realizing that, he did not bring his team to the Camp Nou to score, he brought them there to prevent Barca from scoring and possibly grab one if Barca made a mistake-which they did-see Marquez, but Drogba-the biggest “f*n disgrace” at the Bridge yesterday couldn’t pull through for the Blues-I can only imagine that the Ivorians tirade after the game was down to his fury at himself for missing 2 gilt-edged opportunities over the 2 legs.

    Either way, the complaints last week were about Catenaccio-a style of play employed by a team. This week they are about “unfairness” of a result down to refereeing.

    The ref was atrocious for sure, Chelsea should probably have been awared at least 1 penalty-but at the end of the day, they have ONLY themselves to blame, case closed, Barca ManU in Roma. can’t wait.

  113. Dominghosa says:

    Barcelona spent more than 180 minutes to deliver the perfect pass for the perfect goal. And it was Messi who created it and Iniesta who finished it.
    Disappointing semifinals. Great goal.

  114. Turtle says:

    To set the scene:

    -at the Stamford Bridge in London

    -Barca starts with make shift back line.

    -Red card to Barca with 25 minutes to play (Chelsea up 1-0)

    The facts:

    – Chelsea has total of 5 shots after 65th minute.

    – 0 shots on goal.

    Conclusion:

    That’s why Chelsea will be watching the final.

    Period.

  115. Kevin says:

    Okay I didn’t read every comment, but did anyone else love how he let the ball cross over to his right foot before striking?

    It reminded me of a little kid shooting, yet to pull off a righty finish like that is even more difficult than taking it left footed. He wasn’t able to plant his left next to the ball. He had to keep it back to avoid the ball. Thus, it’s amazing that he didn’t send it into the stands. Awesome shot!

  116. seed says:

    why hasn’t anyone pointed out that Johann Cruyff is still involved with the Barca organization: much more, he’s probably the best Barca player ever to have worn the shirt.

    of course he’s going to say chelsea deserved to lose

    let’s be serious

  117. Pratsy says:

    I think its a victory for football in general. I hate teams that snatch a goal (not to take away from Essien’s brilliant strike) and then put ten men behind the ball (cough Italy). Barca play a free flowing, attacking and exciting style of football that is fun to watch and is the way football is meant to be played. Although its controversial, I think that Barca and ManU are the two best teams in Europe and deserve to play each other in the final.

  118. kevin says:

    Please.

    Drogba and Anelka are divers who can’t score. It would have been injustice had they one the tie on phantom pk’s and red cards.

  119. Colin Ferguson says:

    Great strike.

    I’m not sure where the Hiddink criticism is coming from. You can’t play 180 minutes against Barca better than that.

    When his tenure at Russia is over, you can guarantee all the big teams will come after him. Absolute genius.

  120. Dan Roudebush says:

    Whe big fuss by Chelsea supporters that Barca had only one shot on goal?

    They actually out shot Chelsea 14-13.

    A shot on goal can be a worse shot (too soft, direct to keeper, etc) then a shot that is not on traget, but the player doesn’t quite get enough curve on the ball, etc.

    When you have 11-vs 10 for over 30% of the game and still get outshot, your not playing to win.

    The other thing that most seem to miss here is how high Barca plays defense and puts pressure on the other team to win the ball in the opponent’s third..

  121. Areign says:

    one shot, one kill.

    all the haters should stop crying about the ref. it sucked both ways over both legs. 3 penatly claims? please, i see one there and its not as bad as henry in the first leg. secondly ballack shouldnt have been on the field in the first leg, and abidal should have been there for the final 30 in the second leg.

    I think a visionary of apathy said it best in the 2002 WC. he said that [The other teams] should stop blaming the referees for their own failings, he said that when people cry conspiracy it just angers him. thank you for that statement hiddink, now i hope you choke on your words and are suffocated by your anti-football.

    also, this was posted above, translated for truth:
    Kudos to Guus Hiddink, who designed perfect tactics to TIE an excellent opponent. Unfortunately for Guus, it is difficult to TIE when the other side HAS THE AWAY GOAL ADVANTAGE.

    also, substituting in, its difficult to win when you dont attack would have also worked.

  122. jimmyfloyd says:

    It is not Chelsea, Barca, or United’s job to entertain you. It is their job to win games. Sometimes the games are entertaining, and sometimes they are not. A 1-0 win on Wednesday would have been more exciting for me than the 4-4 draw they had against L’pool in the previous match.

  123. ChelseaMatt says:

    “Iniesta is the God of soccer justice”?

    (Strange) sense of justice.

    Barca isn’t to blame for the referee’s decisions, but at some point you learn that the ref doesn’t have the testicles to call a penalty and that you can get away with anything. It affected the result of the game. If that’s soccer justice, I’m not sure I’m interested in the sport. Fortunately, I don’t believe that, or else I would just give up watching soccer.

  124. Kevin says:

    The Final is going to be horrible and one sided if you ask me. Barca has shown that they cannot score in handfuls against English teams and an away goal is not going to save you in the Final. That being said they are also goign to have a very piss poor defence in there with injuries and suspensions looming. So for everyone saying that this is a “Dream” Final I think that you are goign to be sorely dissappointed. ManU win by at least 2 goals if not bageling Barca in the Final.

  125. Erik says:

    jimmyfloyd

    I think you are right about Barca not having another game plan. I am not a Barca fan in the least and find them quite boring at times. When they turn it on in La Liga, they look great, but otherwise, not really.

    Chelsea has to be one of the most boring teams around. They have their moments when they can score goals, but otherwise they put me to sleep.

  126. Pico says:

    Areign,

    Well said man! It is amazing how quickly people forget that Guus’ Korean team benefited from horrendous officiating against Spain in the 2002 WC. He should know better! Every dog has its day.

    I wonder how many of the Chelsea fans that are lauding their team’s tactical masterpiece against Barcelona would have condemned the Italians for their use of the Catenaccio when they were dominating competition. I bet a few had some not-so-nice adjectives to describe that style.

    Also, can they recall an instance where their team has benefited from poor officiating do the other’s detriment? I bet many of them are offering the same arguments that Barcelona fans are doing right now.

    A few things I have learned from decades of watching football:

    – Victories are not deserved. You win it or loose it on your own. Don’t let anyone else dictate the outcome
    – Goals win games and you always try to score more than your opponents, and then some more
    – ‘Ifs’ do not count or matter
    – Just like in real life, there will always be dark days and sunny days. But life goes on
    – And you always hope Lady Luck likes your smile

    Cheers