Chelsea vs. Benfica  2 - 1

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Champions League: Chelsea 2 Benfica 1

5 April 2012 04:09

A penalty by Frank Lampard and a late goal from Raul Meireles helped Chelsea secure a Champions League semi-final place.

But the 2-1 victory on Wednesday did not come without a scare as Benfica midfielder Javi Garcia’s late goal nearly cost the English side.

The victory over the Portuguese outfit sees the Stamford Bridge side continue on the path towards the final in Munich, but they must now overcome the large roadblock of defending champions Barcelona.

Chelsea found themselves on the back foot early as Benfica looked to level the tie, with Nicolas Gaitan posing the threat down the left wing, but the Blues defence stood firm to protect both Petr Cech and their first-leg lead.

Ashley Cole lifted Chelsea after breaking broke into the box but he was barged down by Garcia, leaving the referee Damir Skomina with no option but to point to the spot.

Benfica skipper Maxi Pereira was shown a yellow card, which would cost the full back later on.

Lampard doive the ball under the outstretched arms of keeper Artur to give Di Matteo's side a two-goal lead on aggregate.

Midway through the first half David Luiz allowed his former side to break into the box, allowing Gaitan to race forward, but the Argentinian midfielder's cross was blocked by John Terry.

The Chelsea skipper came to the rescue again a minute later after a good move from a free kick found Axel Witsel at the back post.

He knocked it down for Oscar Cardozo, who was free on the penalty spot, but his drive towards goal was cleared by Terry on the line.

Five minutes before half-time, things went from bad to worse for the Portuguese outfit as Pereira was shown his second yellow card for a lunge on John Obi Mikel.

The visitors came out with a purpose for the second half and were nearly rewarded straight away as a slick passing move saw the ball arrive at the feet of Cardozo, but his strike was superbly tipped round the post by Chelsea stopper Cech.

Chelsea hit back as Torres took Emerson one way, then the other, his strike was deflected by the Benfica defender for a corner.

The English side continued to search out the goal that would ultimately kill the game off as a contest, with both Juan Mata and Torres having strikes, but neither could find a way past Artur.

Mata could have finished off the game as his bursting run into the box was found by Kalou, but the Spanish midfielder' strike could only go across the face of Artur's goal and out for a goal kick to the visitors.

Stamford Bridge, or at least the Chelsea end, went silent as a corner from the left wing found Garcia free in front of goal and from two yards out he headed the ball into the net to give Benfica a glimmer of hope.

But Chelsea faithful need not worry as deep into injury time, with Benfica moving everyone forward the Blues broke and substitute Meireles unleashed an unstoppable strike to send the Blues into the semi-final stage of the Champions League.

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Ferreira: Jesus taught me plenty

4 April 2012 16:04

Chelsea defender Paulo Ferreira has hailed Benfica manager Jorge Jesus ahead of their Champions League clash with the Portuguese club.

Ferreira played under Jesus in the early stages of his career at Vitoria de Setubal, and the right-back said he owes much to his former coach.

"He was an important person at the beginning of my professional career," Ferreira said.

"He was the one that taught me all the tactical things as a right-back because it was when he went to Setubal that I returned from the national team having played right-back for the first time.

"So in my first session with Jorge Jesus, he just started me as a right-back. He had watched that game and he liked me there, so I was a right-back.

"He was the one who taught me a lot about how to defend well and how to position yourself defensively.

"Because of this, he was one of the most important managers in my professional career."

The 33-year-old feels his former coach was always destined to become a top manager and forecasted he would move on to bigger and better things.

"I knew when he moved to Benfica that he could be a champion and in his first year there he was, and that shows how good a coach he is," he said.

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Mikel: We can win Champions League

4 April 2012 15:32

Chelsea's John Obi Mikel believes his team are capable of winning the Champions League and can claim a top-four place in the Premier League.

Chelsea are fifth in the league, five points off London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

With games to come against relegation strugglers Blackburn, Wigan and QPR, Mikel believes the club are still in with a chance of a top-four finish, and thinks their trip to the Emirates on April 21 could influence the battle for fourth spot.

"We still have the league form to get in there," Mikel said.

"Arsenal and Tottenham still have some difficult games, and we have to play Arsenal so who knows what will happen there?

"With our recent good form I still think we can get in, it is tight but we can only keep going.

"Nobody wants to be in the Europa League here, we all want to be in the top competition because we have Champions League players. We don't want to drop down, so we have to do everything possible to qualify.

Chelsea are the only British representatives left in the Champions League this season. The club are set to face Benfica on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge, and they hold a 1-0 aggregate lead from the first-leg of their quarter-final.

With Barcelona and Bayern Munich already having booked their places in the last four of the competition, and Real Madrid looking likely to do so, Mikel believes his side are still in with a chance of lifting the trophy at the Allianz Arena in May.

"Listen, we can win the Champions League," he said. "We still have very good teams to beat though, starting with Benfica, but we can compete with anybody.

"Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are all great teams so it is looking difficult but we want to do it. First though, we can only focus on Benfica who we know will give us a difficult game."

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Jesus´ Benfica out to topple Chelsea

4 April 2012 08:11

Benfica manager Jorge Jesus said his side will attack to try and overturn their deficit to Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Liga Sagres side Benfica trail 1-0 after the home leg in Portugal last week, and face a tough task to win at Stamford Bridge and continue their run in UEFA's elite competition.

But Jesus cited his team's attacking form in the first leg against the west London club, when the hosts had a large share of possession, as good reason to believe Benfica can come from behind to progress to a semi-final date with Barcelona.

Jesus then referred to pre-emptive discussions about a possible impending re-match between Chelsea and Barca in the semi-finals - hinting the pundits should not get ahead of themselves.

"There's a feeling that Barcelona are being talked about more than this game," Jesus said.

"Chelsea have the upper hand and we are going to approach the game in the same manner as we would have if we'd have won the first game.

"Chelsea had quite a lot of luck in the first game, considering we dominated the game. We have the quality to win this game and I'm sure we can turn the tie around and do the same to Chelsea as they did in Lisbon."

Jesus has no doubts his side could penetrate the defences of Roberto Di Matteo's team, who have conceded just two goals in their past three in all competitions.

"The team's always been able to score away from home in the Champions League and yes, of course the away goals are important and we are going to approach this game by being offensive," he said.

"Obviously we need to play as a team and we need to score to progress and like I said we are going to play an attacking game and I'm sure we can take the game to Chelsea."

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Champions League preview: Chelsea v Benfica

4 April 2012 06:25

Chelsea will be hoping they can keep their perfect home record in the Champions League intact when they host Benfica on Wednesday.

Roberto Di Matteo's side have won all four home matches in Europe's top competition this season, and another win on Wednesday will be enough for them to reach the semi-finals.

A lone goal from Salomon Kalou gave Chelsea a handy 1-0 win in the first leg of their quarter-final against Jorge Jesus' side last week.

Indeed Chelsea have lost just once in their past nine home games in the Champions League, the defeat coming against Manchester United in last season's quarter-final.

The Blues have also been in good form since Di Matteo took over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas in early March, with a narrow loss to Manchester United and a scoreless draw with Tottenham the only blemishes on the Italian's record after eight games in charge.

They showed no ill effects from their trip to Benfica in a 4-2 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, with defender Branislav Ivanovic returning from injury and scoring a brace.

Striker Didier Drogba missed the match at Villa Park with a toe injury while defender David Luiz was sidelined with an ankle complaint, and both will face fitness tests ahead of Wednesday's return leg against Benfica.

The Portuguese side are second in the Liga Sagres, one point behind Porto, but will need to continue to punch above their weight in Europe if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

Benfica have already seen off one English side in the Champions League this season, claiming two draws against Manchester United as they topped Group C, while Sir Alex Ferguson's men finished third and were eliminated.

They will also take confidence in their impressive away record in the Champions League this season, with just one loss in six matches away from the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica.

And goalkeeper Artur believes there is no reason his side cannot get a result in London.

"We'll have to work really hard to win the second leg. Benfica showed the reason why we're in the quarter-finals and, despite the loss, we have the quality to turn the tie around," Artur said.

"We drew 2-2 with Manchester United, who are also a great team, so I don't see why we can't go to London thinking of winning the game. Nothing is impossible in football and we will fight to win that match."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 4 +9 12
2 4 +3 10
3 4 +3 9
4 4 +5 7
5 4 +3 7

Primeira Liga table

# Team MP D P
1 4 +10 10
2 4 +8 10
3 4 +8 10
4 4 +6 10
5 4 +2 9