Chelsea vs. Liverpool  4 - 4

Report

Liverpool had a great first half hour at Stamford Bridge. Fabio Aurelio took a free kick from the right wing and while all expected for him to cross in, the ball sailed into the goal at the first post with keeper Petr Cech only able to watch.

Nine minutes later, the Reds got another as first-leg hero Branislav Ivanovic fouled Xabi Alonso in the penalty area. The Spaniard himself took the spot kick and fired it into the left corner for 0-2.

But Chelsea began their comeback to defend their aggregate lead in the second half. Didier Drogba slightly diverted a Nicolas Anelka cross to surprise Pepe Reina in the 51st minute to give the Blues renewed strength, and the equaliser came just six minutes later as Brazilian defender Alex' powerful free kick sailed away from Reina to hit the net for 2-2.

And the victory was practically in the pocket on 76 minutes, when Drogba found Lampard in front of the goal and the latter pushed the ball past Liverpool's goalie for 3-2.

But there was no sitting back for the hosts as Lucas Leiva equalised from outside the penalty area five minutes later and Dirk Kuyt headed home for 3-4 in minute 83, leaving Liverpool with only one goal left to score.

But the decider came in the 89th minute when Frank Lampard's shot went in via the left post, setting the score to 4-4.

Article

UEFA hail Chelsea-Liverpool among 10 ´classics´

15 April 2009 20:25

PARIS (AFP) - UEFA have included Chelsea's thrilling 4-4 Champions League quarter-final draw with Liverpool in a list of 10 classic matches to have graced the competition.

Chelsea went into Tuesday's second-leg game with a 3-1 lead from the away leg and hit back from 2-0 and 4-3 down to secure a 7-5 aggregate victory that sets up a semi-final meeting with in-form Spanish giants Barcelona.

Three more Liverpool matches feature on the UEFA list, published on their official website on Wednesday.

First up is the Reds' dramatic 4-2 victory over fellow Premier League heavyweights Arsenal at the quarter-final stage of last season's competition.

Liverpool led 2-1 with six minutes remaining and looked to be on course for the last four, before an incredible slaloming run from England winger Theo Walcott set up Emmanuel Adebayor for a goal that put Arsenal in front on the away goals rule.

With extra time beckoning, Steven Gerrard converted a penalty after substitute Ryan Babel had been brought down by Kolo Toure, with the Dutchman then firing home in added time to clinch Liverpool's progress and a 5-3 aggregate win.

But the Merseysiders succumbed to an equally sensational defeat in the quarter-finals of the 2001-02 competition, when a late goal from Brazilian defender Lucio earned German side Bayer Leverkusen a 4-2 second-leg win that took them into the last four.

Liverpool's most famous Champions League performance, however, came in the final of the 2005 competition in Istanbul.

Trailing 3-0 to Italy's AC Milan at half-time, Rafael Benitez's charges stormed back into the game in the second period, scoring three times to take the match to extra time and then clinching victory in the penalty shootout thanks to the heroics of Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.

Milan had been the victims of a similarly jaw-dropping comeback in the 2003-04 competition, which also features in UEFA's list.

Having beaten Deportivo La Coruna 4-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at the San Siro, the Rossoneri travelled to Depor's Riazor stadium fully expecting to progress.

But the Spanish underdogs stunned them by racing into a 3-0 lead by half-time, with a late goal from Fran capping a remarkable and unprecedented turnaround.

Dramatic comebacks are unsurprisingly prominent on UEFA's rundown, which features Monaco's 3-1 quarter-final destruction of Real Madrid in 2004, in which a goal from Monaco's Fernando Morientes, on loan from Real, helped dump his shell-shocked employers out of the competition.

Also included on the list are Barcelona's 5-1 (6-4 aggregate) quarter-final victory over Chelsea in 2000 and Fenerbache's 3-2 spotkick win against Sevilla in last season's round of 16, after both legs had finished 3-2 to the home side.

Manchester United's memorable 1999 triumph earns them two places in the list.

Inspired by Irish midfielder Roy Keane, Alex Ferguson's men fought back from 2-0 down to beat Juventus 3-2 in Turin in the semi-finals, having scraped a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford.

More drama was to follow in the final in Barcelona, when injury-time efforts from substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secured a scarcely believable 2-1 triumph against Bayern Munich.

Article

Seven goals in two games

15 April 2009 19:00

PRAGUE (AFP) - Chelsea's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech on Wednesday said the fact he has conceded seven goals in his last two matches was "an exception".

The Blues drew 4-4 with Liverpool in a thrilling Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, after shipping three goals in a 4-3 Premier League victory at home to Bolton on Saturday.

Cech looked uncharacteristically vulnerable against Rafael Benitez's Liverpool, but played down concerns about his form.

"Sometimes, you can't avoid making mistakes. It's an exception. It can happen," he said during an audio press conference with the Czech media after Chelsea had clinched a 7-5 aggregate victory at Stamford Bridge.

Cech was embarrassed in the 19th minute of Tuesday night's match when Liverpool left-back Fabio Aurelio swept an opportunistic free-kick past him from wide on the right to open the scoring.

"I was concentrating too much on a possible cross and I'd already taken a step forward. After that, it was no longer possible to stop the shot," the 26-year-old Cech admitted.

"I do everything to always be at 100 per cent, but sometimes it just doesn't happen," he added. "That was the case in the match against Liverpool."

Cech was keen to stress that the games prior to the matches against Liverpool and Bolton had been "without problems".

"My previous matches were good. Can that change after two matches?" he asked.

"But, on the other hand, it will be the decision of the coach (if I play). I cannot influence him," he added when asked about the possibility that he could lose his place to Chelsea's Portuguese reserve goalkeeper Hilario.

Article

Liverpool targets Premiership after European exit

15 April 2009 04:30

LONDON (AFP) - Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool's heroic but unsuccessful attempt to claim a remarkable Champions League victory over Chelsea can fire the team's bid to win the Premier League.

Benitez's side crashed out of Europe on Tuesday after narrowly failing to overturn a 3-1 first deficit at Stamford Bridge.

Twice during the amazing 4-4 draw, Liverpool were within one goal of going through, only to finally miss out when Frank Lampard's last minute strike gave Guus Hiddink's men enough breathing space to go through 7-5 on aggregate.

Despite the heartache of losing to Chelsea in the Champions League for the second successive season, Benitez sees no reason to be downcast.

The Liverpool manager is convinced his team's gutsy display proves they have the character to overhaul Premier League leaders Manchester United.

The Reds are one point behind United and face a crucial match at home to Arsenal next Tuesday.

"We are not happy with the result. When you lose you are disappointed but to lose in this way, the players have to be really proud and hold their heads up high," Benitez said.

"We showed character, quality and we have to be really proud. The players have done a fantastic job and the fans will be very pleased with the team.

"You are always disappointed to lose but thinking about the Premier League maybe it is positive because we showed we can score four goals at Stamford Bridge, so we can do the same at any stadium.

"We can win a lot of games with this mentality."

Liverpool can take extra pride in pushing Chelsea so close despite being without captain Steven Gerrard. The England midfielder didn't even make the bench after tweaking a groin injury 24 hours before the match, but Benitez expects him to be fit for the Arsenal clash.

"He had a problem on Monday and felt something. We thought he could be ok but he couldn't play," Benitez said. "I don't think it is serious. I hope he will be ok (for Arsenal).

"For us to lose a key player is important but credit to the other players, they did a fantastic job.

"Important players like (Fernando) Torres and Gerrard can score a lot of goals but the rest of the team can do the job."

Despite being given a first-half penalty for Branislav Ivanovic's tug on Xabi Alonso, Benitez was unhappy with Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo.

"When you play against a good team like Chelsea and make a mistake, you pay for it. We were attacking, controlling it, but one or two mistakes and that's it," he said.

"We had 29 fouls against us, too. I prefer not to talk too much about the referee. Twenty nine fouls against us. We are not happy with the result at the end. I said congratulations to Guus (Hiddink) and all the best for the Champions League, but I was not happy."

Article

Chelsea warned not to drop ball against Barca

15 April 2009 04:30

LONDON (AFP) - Guus Hiddink admits Chelsea cannot afford a repeat of their epic Champions League quarter-final second leg against Liverpool when they face Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Hiddink's side reached the last four after surviving one of the most dramatic matches in the history of Europe's elite club competition at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

After winning 3-1 at Anfield in the first leg, Chelsea were expected to cruise through but twice they were within one goal of surrendering that lead as Liverpool made a heroic bid for victory. It wasn't until Frank Lampard scored his second goal in the last minute that the Blues could finally relax.

The amazing 4-4 draw sealed a 7-5 aggregate success for Chelsea, but Hiddink knows Barcelona are capable of making Chelsea pay a heavier price if they produce another performance laced with so many errors.

"Barcelona have skilful players and they know how to handle the pace of the game. They always like to play an advanced, attacking game," Hiddink said.

"If you give teams who are very skilful too much space, they know how to handle it and go into that space. Then you are in for a very difficult match.

"It is difficult to play them because they are a top team, but it is one of those beautiful games at the end of the season."

Chelsea's cause won't be helped by the absence of Ashley Cole after he picked up a booking that triggers a one-match ban. With Paulo Ferreira injured, Hiddink has no experienced cover for the England left-back.

Hiddink will also have to spend time working out a way to restore Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech's shattered confidence.

After conceding three goals against Bolton on Saturday, Cech looked a nervous wreck and was caught completely out of position by Fabio Aurelio's clever first half free-kick.

Hiddink admitted Cech's morale is low but refused to consider dropping him for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

"Petr is very intelligent and self-critical. He wasn't happy with his performance against Bolton. He knows he had a difficult time and also against Liverpool you could see there were times when he didn't have full confidence," Hiddink said.

"But I think a goalie once in a while has a right not to have a big performance. We will think about the situation but if a player is playing badly it is not always the reason to make a change."

Liverpool had taken the lead when Aurelio deceived Cech by driving in a low free-kick to the near post instead of crossing to the far post as the Chelsea keeper expected.

Cech was rooted to the spot as Aurelio's shot flashed into the net and he was helpless again when Xabi Alonso picked himself up to drive home a penalty after Branislav Ivanovic fouled the Spaniard.

But Hiddink read the riot act to his players at half-time and the transformation was instant. Liverpool 'keeper Jose Reina pushed Didier Drogba's close-range finish into his own net, then Alex lashed in a blistering free-kick that gave Reina no chance.

Lampard looked to have won it when he converted Didier Drogba's cross but Liverpool refused to accept defeat and Lucas pulled one back with a deflected effort in the 81st minute.

That seemed to be no more than a consolation, yet Dirk Kuyt headed in Albert Riera's cross two minutes later before Lampard's curler finally finished the thriller.

"We talked to them, my colleagues talked to them and sometimes you lose a bit of your temper," Hiddink said. "But they reacted and they also knew the first half was not okay.

"We were angry because we didn't start as we planned. You cannot give them a lot of space but we did. We dropped back too much and looked for safety.

"Tactically but also mentally we said to each other, that it was not the way we would start the second half. That's why I like to work with this team, it reacts.

"We knew that we could score and happily we did rather early after the beginning of the second half.

"It was very dramatic. One moment you think you are down and then the team reacts and then you are up before you are down again. It was a case of being in the game then almost being out of it."

Article

Chelsea survive Champions League roller-coaster

14 April 2009 23:05

LONDON (AFP) - Chelsea survived one of the most dramatic matches in Champions League history to reach the semi-finals with a 4-4 draw against Liverpool in Tuesday's quarter-final second leg for a 7-5 aggregate victory.

Guus Hiddink's side, who will face Barcelona in the last four, came agonisingly close to squandering their 3-1 first leg lead as Liverpool twice pulled within one goal of a remarkable victory at Stamford Bridge.

The great escape looked on when Fabio Aurelio's free-kick and a Xabi Alonso penalty put Liverpool two goals ahead by half-time.

Chelsea staged a superb second half revival as an own goal by Jose Reina was followed by strikes from Alex and Frank Lampard to seemingly put the Blues in control.

But Liverpool had no intention of going out quietly and Lucas and Dirk Kuyt struck to set up a nerve-jangling finish. If the Reds scored again they would go through on away goals, but Lampard finally settled the tie with a minute to play.

For the second successive season, Chelsea have knocked their Premier League rivals out of Europe's elite club competition, but the nerves of every Chelsea player and fan inside Stamford Bridge must have been completely shredded before the Blues finally emerged victorious.

Liverpool, who were without injured captain Steven Gerrard, needed the kind of heroic display they produced to turn a three-goal deficit into Champions League final victory against AC Milan in 2005.

They started as if inspired by the spirit of Istanbul and Fernando Torres surged onto Yossi Benayoun's backheel, only to lose his composure and scuff tamely wide.

The Blues were wary of committing too many players forward and Liverpool, dominating possession as a result, took the lead in remarkable fashion after 19 minutes.

There was no apparent danger when Aurelio lined up a free-kick wide on the wing 35 yards from goal. But Petr Cech clearly expected the Brazilian to send in a cross and put just one man in the defensive wall before taking up a position on the far side of his goal.

Aurelio noticed the gaping hole at Cech's near-post and took full advantage with a cheeky low shot that left the Chelsea keeper rooted to the spot.

Hiddink's team looked devoid of any idea how to defend their lead. Liverpool were tormented by Chelsea's corners in the first leg but now it was their turn to cause chaos from set pieces and they scored again in the 28th minute.

Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantelejo ruled that Branislav Ivanovic had pulled down Alonso in the penalty area as the players challenged for another Aurelio free-kick.

Ivanovic, Chelsea's two-goal hero from the first leg, was now the villain as Alonso picked himself up to dispatch the penalty past Cech.

The Blues were shell-shocked and Hiddink responded by hauling off Salomon Kalou, with Nicolas Anelka replacing the Ivorian.

Hiddink sent his players out early before the start of the second half and Chelsea, finally attacking with some urgency, punished a blunder by Reina to go back in front on aggregate in the 52nd minute.

Anelka surged away from two defenders on the right wing and whipped in a low cross that Didier Drogba nudged goalwards. Reina got his hand to the ball but the Spaniard's feeble attempted save only succeeded in pushing it into his own net.

Another goal for Liverpool would still force extra-time but Hiddink's team-talk had done its' job.

Chelsea were transformed and they scored again in the 57th minute when Alex hammered a ferocious, swerving free-kick past Reina from long-range.

Ashley Cole was booked for obstruction, ruling him out of the semi-final first leg, but Chelsea had the bit between their teeth and Lampard made it three in the 76th minute.

Drogba powered away down the left and crossed towards Lampard, who timed his run perfectly to finish from close-range.

That should have been the killer goal but even then Liverpool refused to throw in the towel.

When Lucas scored with a low strike that deflected off Michael Essien in the 81st minute, it seemed no more than a consolation.

But two minutes later, Chelsea's defence allowed Kuyt yards of space to meet Albert Riera's cross with a close-range header that gave Cech no chance.

Liverpool had to throw caution to the wind now in search of the winning goal and their heroic effort was destined to end in failure as Lampard curled home the equaliser in the 89th minute. At long last, Chelsea could relax.

Article

Chelsea scrape past Liverpool in Champions League

14 April 2009 22:50

LONDON (AFP) - Last year's beaten finalists Chelsea edged into the Champions League semi-finals here on Tuesday in a thrilling 4-4 draw to win 7-5 on aggregate.

Chelsea had fought back from 2-0 down at half-time to lead 3-2 on the night only for Liverpool to score two goals in the last 10 minutes through Lucas and Dirk Kuyt and needed just one more to go through on the away goals rule.

However, England midfielder Frank Lampard at last put the result beyond doubt when he scored in the final minute to set Chelsea up with a semi-final clash with Barcelona.

Article

Quick Report: Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool

14 April 2009 22:35

Chelsea are through to the semi finals of the Champions League following a spectacular 4-4 draw with arch rivals Liverpool on Tuesday. The Londoners had won the first leg 3-1.

Liverpool had a great first half hour at Stamford Bridge. Fabio Aurelio took a free kick from the right wing and while all expected for him to cross in, the ball sailed into the goal at the first post with keeper Petr Cech only able to watch.

Nine minutes later, the Reds got another as first-leg hero Branislav Ivanovic fouled Xabi Alonso in the penalty area. The Spaniard himself took the spot kick and fired it into the left corner for 0-2.

But Chelsea began their comeback to defend their aggregate lead in the second half. Didier Drogba slightly diverted a Nicolas Anelka cross to surprise Pepe Reina in the 51st minute to give the Blues renewed strength, and the equaliser came just six minutes later as Brazilian defender Alex' powerful free kick sailed away from Reina to hit the net for 2-2.

And the victory was practically in the pocket on 76 minutes, when Drogba found Lampard in front of the goal and the latter pushed the ball past Liverpool's goalie for 3-2.

But there was no sitting back for the hosts as Lucas Leiva equalised from outside the penalty area five minutes later and Dirk Kuyt headed home for 3-4 in minute 83, leaving Liverpool with only one goal left to score.

But the decider came in the 89th minute when Frank Lampard's shot went in via the left post, setting the score to 4-4.

Article

Benitez wants Liverpool to show spirit of Istanbul

14 April 2009 18:25

LONDON (AFP) - Rafa Benitez will call on Liverpool to show the spirit of Istanbul in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.

Benitez's side trail 3-1 from the first leg at Anfield last week and need an heroic peformance in west London to reach the semi-finals.

History is against Liverpool, who have never won away from home in Europe against an English team and have not scored three goals at Stamford Bridge since 1989 when they won 5-2.

As if that wasn't enough to discourage Liverpool, they will also have to become the first team to score three times at the Bridge in a European match.

But Liverpool are no strangers to European miracles under Benitez. Their most famous comeback was in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan when they fought back from 3-0 down to beat the Italian team on penalties.

Liverpool have already won 1-0 at Chelsea this season, while Bolton scored three times in their defeat there on Saturday and Benitez believes the Reds can produce another Istanbul-style revival on Tuesday.

"The experience of Istanbul will help us, it shows you can come back from a big score. And it is important to realise that Bolton scored three there on Saturday, anything can happen," Benitez said on Monday.

"We have already won at Stamford Bridge this season. We ended their long unbeaten home record and that is a massive boost to our confidence.

"We can do it, if we work together and we score in the first half. If we do not do that it becomes increasingly more difficult, mentally.

"If we score a second goal then they will be under real pressure. But we know we must be almost perfect.

"People have written us off. Maybe we have nothing to lose, which means we can be positive, relax and hopefully then not make mistakes.

"We want to score an early goal, that is very important. But we will need to be calm and not lose our concentration. Bolton scored three, so it can be done, but Chelsea had already scored four, so you can see how hard it is to beat them at Stamford Bridge.

"Chelsea are a very good team and it will be very difficult, but we have been scoring a lot of goals against Manchester United, Real Madrid, Aston Villa and now Blackburn, so our form is very good."

Benitez is ready to risk captain Steven Gerrard after resting the midfielder in Saturday's 4-0 win over Blackburn to aid his recovery from a groin injury.

"Steven is getting better, he will train with the squad and we will make a decision nearer the match. Obviously we want him in the side, winning is easier with him than without him," Benitez added.

"Everything can change if he can play, and plays well, and it is not a massive risk if we use him."

Benitez, who will also have Javier Mascherano available after the Argentina midfielder missed the first leg through suspension, was encouraged by the way his side destroyed Blackburn so soon after the Chelsea defeat.

"The team produced a superb display, scored plenty of goals and certainly showed that we can score three goals in a match," he said.

"And Blackburn have a lot of very tall players, and we handled that well, and that gives us another positive message ahead of the second leg."

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina agrees with Benitez that the Istanbul triumph - which came before he joined the club - is the perfect inspiration.

"Istanbul should be the inspiration for us. We know that the tie is really difficult, but still we have hope," Reina said. "We know already that if anyone can turn this around, it's Liverpool.

"We have to attack and score three goals. Even if we concede one, we'll have the chance to go to extra-time.

"We won 4-1 at Man United this season and no-one expected us to do that. We know already it's going to be almost impossible, but if there's someone who can do it, it's going to be Liverpool."

Article

Chelsea will stop Liverpool: Hiddink

14 April 2009 12:35

LONDON (AFP) - Guus Hiddink believes Chelsea's unbreakable team spirit will stop Liverpool staging a famous revival in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg.

Although Hiddink's side have one foot in the semi-finals after last week's stunning 3-1 victory at Anfield, Liverpool have developed a habit of upsetting the form book in Europe under Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool's fightback from 3-0 down to win the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan proved how dangerous they can be, but it would take a spectacular meltdown to deny Chelsea a probable last four showdown against Barcelona, 4-0 winners over Bayern Munich in their first leg.

While a less resolute team could crack under the pressure of an early Liverpool goal on Tuesday, Blues boss Hiddink is convinced the squad's togetherness will play a key role in finishing the job at Stamford Bridge.

"There is a fantastic spirit around this club, everyone believes in what we can achieve this season and it is exciting to be a part of that," he said.

"But we must not lose our focus for one game or one minute and that means each game is as important as the next one. We have the same aim, which is to try and win all of them.

"It is important that we take the momentum gained from winning at Anfield into this game and keep our level of performance up."

When Hiddink arrived at Chelsea in February the club's season was in danger of fizzling out, but he quickly won the respect of players who were unconvinced by Scolari's laidback regime.

Now Chelsea look back to their intimidating best and they could still finish the season with a treble. Saturday's 4-3 win over Bolton kept them within four points of Manchester United in the Premier League, while Tuesday's Liverpool showdown is followed by an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley.

Ashley Cole, Chelsea's England left-back, admits the rejuvenating effect provided by Hiddink's no-nonsense style has come at the perfect time.

"It is always nice to go to Anfield and get a good result and it is going to be tough for them to come to the Bridge and score three goals," Cole said.

"Of course it could happen but we have got the players in our team to score goals. We have scored in every game apart from one since the new manager came in so we are very confident we can push on now and go through."

Hiddink's only concern going into Tuesday's tie is the careless way his side allowed Bolton to come back from 4-0 down to set up a tense finale, with Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech looking especially vulnerable.

After the ruthless way Hiddink targeted and exploited Liverpool's zonal marking system in the first leg, Benitez will be desperate to find a tactical retort. He could do worse than tell his players to test Cech early on.

If Liverpool do claim a famous victory, it is safe to say Fernando Torres will have played a key role.

Torres scored a stunning half-volley as he took his tally for the season to 14 with two goals in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Blackburn and the Spain striker believes the result proved Liverpool have the goal-power to mount a remarkable fightback.

"The way we played is good for our build-up and preparation for Tuesday," Torres said.

"This win gives us confidence after the 3-1 defeat. But I believe the team can score three goals at Stamford Bridge. We won away to Manchester United, they scored but we still won 4-1.

"Chelsea could just defend, but I doubt that. They will want to score themselves and that will give us a chance ourselves."

Benitez was able to leave captain Steven Gerrard on the bench against Blackburn as he struggles with a groin injury, but the England midfielder will surely be risked on Tuesday.

Chelsea will have to do without their skipper as John Terry serves a one-match ban after his booking for a foul on Liverpool keeper Jose Reina in the first leg.

Article

Chelsea will stop Liverpool: Hiddink

14 April 2009 02:25

LONDON (AFP) - Guus Hiddink believes Chelsea's unbreakable team spirit will stop Liverpool staging a famous revival in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg.

Although Hiddink's side have one foot in the semi-finals after last week's stunning 3-1 victory at Anfield, Liverpool have developed a habit of upsetting the form book in Europe under Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool's fightback from 3-0 down to win the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan proved how dangerous they can be, but it would take a spectacular meltdown to deny Chelsea a probable last four showdown against Barcelona, 4-0 winners over Bayern Munich in their first leg.

While a less resolute team could crack under the pressure of an early Liverpool goal on Tuesday, Blues boss Hiddink is convinced the squad's togetherness will play a key role in finishing the job at Stamford Bridge.

"There is a fantastic spirit around this club, everyone believes in what we can achieve this season and it is exciting to be a part of that," he said.

"But we must not lose our focus for one game or one minute and that means each game is as important as the next one. We have the same aim, which is to try and win all of them.

"It is important that we take the momentum gained from winning at Anfield into this game and keep our level of performance up."

When Hiddink arrived at Chelsea in February the club's season was in danger of fizzling out, but he quickly won the respect of players who were unconvinced by Scolari's laidback regime.

Now Chelsea look back to their intimidating best and they could still finish the season with a treble. Saturday's 4-3 win over Bolton kept them within four points of Manchester United in the Premier League, while Tuesday's Liverpool showdown is followed by an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley.

Ashley Cole, Chelsea's England left-back, admits the rejuvenating effect provided by Hiddink's no-nonsense style has come at the perfect time.

"It is always nice to go to Anfield and get a good result and it is going to be tough for them to come to the Bridge and score three goals," Cole said.

"Of course it could happen but we have got the players in our team to score goals. We have scored in every game apart from one since the new manager came in so we are very confident we can push on now and go through."

Hiddink's only concern going into Tuesday's tie is the careless way his side allowed Bolton to come back from 4-0 down to set up a tense finale, with Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech looking especially vulnerable.

After the ruthless way Hiddink targeted and exploited Liverpool's zonal marking system in the first leg, Benitez will be desperate to find a tactical retort. He could do worse than tell his players to test Cech early on.

If Liverpool do claim a famous victory, it is safe to say Fernando Torres will have played a key role.

Torres scored a stunning half-volley as he took his tally for the season to 14 with two goals in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Blackburn and the Spain striker believes the result proved Liverpool have the goal-power to mount a remarkable fightback.

"The way we played is good for our build-up and preparation for Tuesday," Torres said.

"This win gives us confidence after the 3-1 defeat. But I believe the team can score three goals at Stamford Bridge. We won away to Manchester United, they scored but we still won 4-1.

"Chelsea could just defend, but I doubt that. They will want to score themselves and that will give us a chance ourselves."

Benitez was able to leave captain Steven Gerrard on the bench against Blackburn as he struggles with a groin injury, but the England midfielder will surely be risked on Tuesday.

Chelsea will have to do without their skipper as John Terry serves a one-match ban after his booking for a foul on Liverpool keeper Jose Reina in the first leg.

Article

Benitez wants Liverpool to show spirit of Istanbul

13 April 2009 20:45

LONDON (AFP) - Rafa Benitez will call on Liverpool to show the spirit of Istanbul in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.

Benitez's side trail 3-1 from the first leg at Anfield last week and need an heroic peformance in west London to reach the semi-finals.

History is against Liverpool, who have never won away from home in Europe against an English team and have not scored three goals at Stamford Bridge since 1989 when they won 5-2.

As if that wasn't enough to discourage Liverpool, they will also have to become the first team to score three times at the Bridge in a European match.

But Liverpool are no strangers to European miracles under Benitez. Their most famous comeback was in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan when they fought back from 3-0 down to beat the Italian team on penalties.

Liverpool have already won 1-0 at Chelsea this season, while Bolton scored three times in their defeat there on Saturday and Benitez believes the Reds can produce another Istanbul-style revival on Tuesday.

"The experience of Istanbul will help us, it shows you can come back from a big score. And it is important to realise that Bolton scored three there on Saturday, anything can happen," Benitez said on Monday.

"We have already won at Stamford Bridge this season. We ended their long unbeaten home record and that is a massive boost to our confidence.

"We can do it, if we work together and we score in the first half. If we do not do that it becomes increasingly more difficult, mentally.

"If we score a second goal then they will be under real pressure. But we know we must be almost perfect.

"People have written us off. Maybe we have nothing to lose, which means we can be positive, relax and hopefully then not make mistakes.

"We want to score an early goal, that is very important. But we will need to be calm and not lose our concentration. Bolton scored three, so it can be done, but Chelsea had already scored four, so you can see how hard it is to beat them at Stamford Bridge.

"Chelsea are a very good team and it will be very difficult, but we have been scoring a lot of goals against Manchester United, Real Madrid, Aston Villa and now Blackburn, so our form is very good."

Benitez is ready to risk captain Steven Gerrard after resting the midfielder in Saturday's 4-0 win over Blackburn to aid his recovery from a groin injury.

"Steven is getting better, he will train with the squad and we will make a decision nearer the match. Obviously we want him in the side, winning is easier with him than without him," Benitez added.

"Everything can change if he can play, and plays well, and it is not a massive risk if we use him."

Benitez, who will also have Javier Mascherano available after the Argentina midfielder missed the first leg through suspension, was encouraged by the way his side destroyed Blackburn so soon after the Chelsea defeat.

"The team produced a superb display, scored plenty of goals and certainly showed that we can score three goals in a match," he said.

"And Blackburn have a lot of very tall players, and we handled that well, and that gives us another positive message ahead of the second leg."

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina agrees with Benitez that the Istanbul triumph - which came before he joined the club - is the perfect inspiration.

"Istanbul should be the inspiration for us. We know that the tie is really difficult, but still we have hope," Reina said. "We know already that if anyone can turn this around, it's Liverpool.

"We have to attack and score three goals. Even if we concede one, we'll have the chance to go to extra-time.

"We won 4-1 at Man United this season and no-one expected us to do that. We know already it's going to be almost impossible, but if there's someone who can do it, it's going to be Liverpool."

Article

Hiddink aims to leave Chelsea with silverware

13 April 2009 19:40

LONDON (AFP) - Guus Hiddink believes his no-nonsense style can help Chelsea enjoy a successful end to his brief reign.

Hiddink has made a significant impact since replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari but the Dutchman, speaking ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Liverpool, confirmed Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck's admission that he will not stay beyond the end of this season.

The Blues are firm favourites to advance to the Champions League semi-finals by finishing off Liverpool in the last eight second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Hiddink's side lead 3-1 after last week's stunning performance at Anfield, leaving Liverpool needing to score at least three goals to have any hope of a miraculous win.

Russia coach Hiddink has lost just one game since taking over as interim manager and he revealed his decision not to establish close friendships with any of his squad has allowed him to give a much-needed rocket to some of the players who underachieved during Scolari's reign.

"We're not close. I have to take decisions against some players because they're not playing," Hiddink said.

"They might be out of shape, or for tactical reasons. I like to have a very direct, open relationship with my players. I don't want to have a relationship where I might play games with them.

"I don't like that. I have an open relationship. Then I can challenge them with an open mind and an open face. But, on the other hand, a manager should not be having bonds and friendships.

"That's maybe after we have done our job in this club. I like a very straightforward, direct approach because then you can challenge them in a way to be professional.

"There's one aim. The aim is to get to the next round. If players are under-performing just knowing that the manager is leaving at the end of the season, it's not the right professional attitude.

"We're very sharp on that attitude. Even though I'm not here next year, they have to respond. If they don't, they're not equipped to be at a big club."

Hiddink's squad has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate they are equipped to be at Chelsea when they face a Liverpool side that has nothing to lose.

Even though the Reds have not scored three goals at Stamford Bridge in two decades, Hiddink's side inadvertently gave them inspiration on Saturday.

Chelsea, 4-0 to the good with 20 minutes left against Bolton, allowed Wanderers to score three times in nine minutes in a seven-goal thriller.

But Hiddink insists Chelsea have no intention of sitting back and defending their lead.

"It cannot be a cautious game where you have a kind of balance in a game where nothing happens for an hour, then maybe a team takes some risks at the end," he said.

"That's not in both team's souls. We have to go for the win at home.

"Going 4-0 up against Bolton and then conceding as we did was like an alarm clock ringing for this upcoming game.

"We should have controlled the last part of the game. We can concede one, at 4-1, but one alarm bell is enough.

"We've prepared very seriously. A lot of people have said, if you win an away game in Europe like we did, then you won't have any concerns for the second game.

"But we're not thinking like that. Liverpool are a very good team who play beautiful football, and we're very aware of that.

"There is no such reason, whatever the team you are playing against, but especially Liverpool with what they did in the past, to have complacency."

Article

Gerrard on course for Chelsea clash

13 April 2009 16:00

LIVERPOOL, England (AFP) - Steven Gerrard is on track to lead Liverpool in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg at Chelsea after the England midfielder returned to training on Monday.

Gerrard was rested by boss Rafael Benitez for Saturday's 4-0 win over Blackburn at Anfield following scans that showed a recurrence of the Liverpool skipper's groin injury.

But Benitez confirmed on Monday that Gerrard was responding to treatment and will travel to London as Liverpool try to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg.

"Steven is getting better, he has been working with the physio and will train on Monday," Benitez said.

"We will then discuss the situation with the doctors, but Steven will travel with the party to London and I will make a decision on Tuesday."

Benitez knows Liverpool's hopes of a famous win at Stamford Bridge would be boosted by Gerrard and he is ready to take a calculated risk.

He said: "Obviously we do not want him to break down again, he could then be out for 10 to 16 days. But the injury is not a massive one, it will be a calculated gamble to play him but one that I will consider.

"We are 3-1 down and we know that everything can change if we have Steven in the side and he plays well."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 35 +52 80
2 35 +41 75
3 34 +56 74
4 35 +21 70
5 35 +23 69

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 35 +52 80
2 35 +41 75
3 34 +56 74
4 35 +21 70
5 35 +23 69