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Drogba gives Barca the Blues
Chelsea produced the kind of "perfect" performance Roberto Di Matteo had demanded to beat Barcelona 1-0 and give themselves real hope of reaching the Champions League final.
The Blues once again proved the nemesis of the team feted by many as the greatest to play the game thanks to an amazing smash-and-grab display in the semi-final first leg at a jubilant Stamford Bridge.
Caretaker manager Di Matteo's plan paid off spectacularly, Didier Drogba scoring the winner on the stroke of half-time to go some way to burying the demons of the sides' last meeting three years ago.
As well as being magnificent to a man in carrying out the instructions of Di Matteo - whose claim to be appointed manager on a full-time basis is becoming irresistible - Chelsea also enjoyed the kind of luck that deserted them in 2009 and which they have had in spades since the Italian took charge.
They may need plenty more at the Nou Camp on Tuesday to reach their second final after Barca missed a glut of chances after dominating possession from start to finish.
In the first of them in the ninth minute, Alexis Sanchez chipped against the crossbar from Andres Iniesta's perfectly-timed pass, while Cesc Fabregas missed a sitter, shanking his finish after Lionel Messi's burst and pass had set up Iniesta for a shot Petr Cech parried.
Messi finally had the chance to build up a real head of steam two minutes before half-time, Fabregas this time producing a delightful dink which was only kept out by Ashley Cole's clearance off the line.
Drogba then scored with the final kick of the first half. Barca were caught upfield and Frank Lampard's ball over the top sent Ramires rampaging forward, the Brazilian's cross picking out Drogba. Valdes should have saved the scuffed finish but could only help it into the net.
Barca were even more dominant after the restart, Cech parrying Adriano's curler before Sanchez missed another gilt-edge chance when he stabbed Fabregas' scooped pass wide from six yards. Otherwise they were being kept at bay by a world-class defensive display led by Gary Cahill and John Terry, who were almost single-handedly keeping Messi at bay.
Barca laid siege to the Blues goal and Cech produced a magnificent save three minutes' from time when Carles Puyol glanced Messi's free-kick towards the corner. And, in stoppage-time, the visitors saved their worst finish until last, Sergio Busquets skying high over the crossbar after Pedro's effort had hit the post.