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Hiddink holds his nerve

Paul Fletcher | 01:17 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink planned to go home after his team's 4-4 draw with Liverpool and drink a glass of wine.

After what the Dutchman witnessed on Tuesday evening he would have been well within his rights to make it a very large scotch.

What unfolded at Stamford Bridge was a stone-cold classic, the sort of encounter that bolsters the belief held by many that English football is the most exciting in the world.

It was also the sort of match to send a manager over the edge.

You could see the frustration in the respective dugouts. Hiddink had started the match wearing a large coat but that didn't last long, such was the frequency with which he made the short journey to berate the fourth official.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez refused to be outdone and by the end of the evening the official on the sidelines, Alfonso Perez Burrull, might just have developed a high-pitched ringing sound in his ears. Benitez was quick to tell the assembled media afterwards that his team had been penalised for 29 fouls. He left them to draw their own conclusions.

Benitez constantly issues instructions to his players, almost coaches them through the game. He is rarely still and must cover the same distance as a midfielder. He should have his own ProZone statistics.

Hiddink does not communicate with his players nearly as often during a game but the fact that he made a tactical substitution after 36 minutes, replacing Salomon Kalou with Nicolas Anelka, told you all you needed to know about his take on the opening to the contest.

Frank Lampard scored twice as Chelsea won 7-5 on aggregate

By that stage his team trailed 2-0 on the night and were one more from falling behind in the tie. Hiddink berated his players at the break, told them that they had not started as planned and had given Liverpool far too much space. He also felt that too many of his players had lost their individual duels, but there is no denying that what made Tuesday's match so enthralling was in part straightforward human error.

Chelsea's encounters with Liverpool - and there have now been 24 since Benitez arrived at Anfield in 2004 - have occasionally been tense, tactical affairs in which the two sides have cancelled themselves out. This was not the case on Tuesday. Petr Cech's horrendous neglect of his near post, for example, allowed Fabio Aurelio to strike the most unlikely opening goal and gave Liverpool the self-belief to really take the match to their opponents.

Cech, uncertain against Bolton on Saturday, had another poor game and looks a pale shadow of his former self. Hiddink refused to be drawn on whether he would consider dropping the Czech keeper for his team's FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal on Saturday, choosing instead to acknowledge it had not been a great few days for Cech, who he described as "very intelligent and very self-critical".

Chelsea squandered possession far too easily in the first half, inviting their opponents to attack. For a team with such an enviable home record they looked extremely uncertain. I asked Ricardo Carvalho afterwards what it had been like in the dressing room at half-time. "Difficult," he said.

If it was difficult for him, the opening half must have been hell for suspended skipper John Terry, who was sitting a few rows in front of me. Looking towards the goal to his right as Liverpool clawed their way back into the tie, he must have noticed the huge banner that hung from the tier above. It said "JT - captain, leader, legend", but from his seat he was powerless to influence what was happening in front of him.

Hiddink deserves high praise for taking such decisive action in replacing Kalou with Anelka. He explained that when making such an early substitution he prefers it to involve attacking players and felt Anelka would offer more of a one-on-one threat and greater penetration.

Chelsea also responded to what Hiddink had told them at the break. It is one of the things that the coach has noticed in his short time at Stamford Bridge - the ability of his players to react to his instructions.

When Frank Lampard, inspirational at times and perhaps unlucky not to be on the shortlist for the PFA player of the year award, scored to complete a sensational turnaround and put Chelsea 3-2 ahead, the tie looked to be definitively over.

Sometimes, however, football does throw up the most unpredictable and breathtaking sequences of play. It defies logic and expectation. It is what makes it such a remarkable game and why we turn up week after week; a fear of missing something that we might live to regret.

Liverpool's quick-fire late brace remarkably took them to within one goal of qualification for a second time in the match before Lampard struck again to finally seal the tie in Chelsea's favour.

By this stage the atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge was sensational. The decibel level had oscillated throughout between the two sets of fans before finally settling in the home team's favour but all had seen something to savour.

As the players made their way out of the stadium afterwards it was clear that both teams felt they could take something positive away with them.

Benitez paid handsome tribute to his side, praising their character and quality as well as singling out the much-maligned Lucas Leiva for his performance in deputising for the injured Steven Gerrard. Xabi Alonso said that there were many positives for the Reds to take into their quest for a first Premier League title.

And there is no doubt that Liverpool did prove a point. Chelsea shut down Gerrard and Fernando Torres in the first leg and left 3-1 winners. People hinted at a team over-reliant on these two players yet, even though Gerrard was missing at Stamford Bridge and Torres relatively ineffective, Liverpool still had enough about them to score four goals.

Chelsea march on and now face Barcelona in the last four - although with Wayne Bridge now at Manchester City and Paulo Ferreira injured they will have to contest the first leg without a recognised left-back after Ashley Cole was booked on Tuesday.

Before then they face Arsenal in the FA Cup and resume their Premier League duties. Perhaps with so many fixtures looming they won't have time for a full video debrief of Tuesday's match.

I don't think Carvalho would be too bothered. When I asked him if he would like to see the match again he said: "No, no, no. We can watch it to learn from our mistakes but it would not be good."

Millions of football fans might choose to disagree.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    a fantastic match. good luck to chelsea against barcelona - your going to need it.

    unlucky liverpool, another tropyless season is upon you.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a game! Honestly, i'd much rather have Barca in the semi's than Utd or Arsenal. English teams are the toughest to play against in Europe. One step closer to the final guys! COME ON U BLUES!!!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Whilst it was entertaining I thought it was a really poor game in terms of quality. At least 3 of the goals were caused by error rather than skill. Liverpool should never have been allowed back into this game after being 1-3 down from the first leg. The first goal was a shocker almost a School boy error from Czch. Then once Liverpool were back in the game Reina commits an almost equal error to undo all the good work. Chelsea are going to have to improve defensely or will get punished against Barcelona. The one good think is that Terry will return to the fold.

  • Comment number 4.

    At 2-0 down, Chelsea were a goal away from going out 4-3, nothing to do with away goals. 3-1 + 0-3 = 3-4 Simple enough really.

    The BBC don't seem to be able to understand away goals, just a few days ago there was an article saying Manchester United beat Juventus on away goals in 1999, but the aggregate score was 4-3 to United that time too. United were going through on away goals on that occasion until they went 3-2 up.

  • Comment number 5.

    What an incredible game. I'm so gutted that we've gone out, but i believe we can hold our heads high. We gave it a damn good go. I was up and down like a yo yo all game! And so was my blood pressure!

    It was all won and lost in the 1st leg. If only we hadn't capitulated like that then we'd be sitting in the semi finals right now. Oh well, there's always next year. You can't win it every year i suppose!

    But it was definitely one of the best games i have ever seen. Maybe not in terms of actually skill, but the heart, determination, drama and atmosphere was outstanding. Stamford Bridge isn't know for it's atmosphere like Anfield is, but the place was certainly rocking last night. Credit to both sets of fans.

    Well done Chelsea on reaching the semi finals. You guys played well over the two legs. And if you can keep Messi quiet in the 1st leg of the semi, you've got a chance of making the final.

    Shame we couldn't win for the 96, but we did that on saturday. YNWA.

  • Comment number 6.

    People should not be so quick to judge Reina on the first goal. The egregious Drogba (seriously, rolling back on to the pitch to stop play for an "injury", it beggars belief) got a slight touch on it, giving Reina about 0.1 of a second to re-adjust. It was not his fault, although I can understand why people would think otherwise.

    A fantastic game. Why get bogged down looking for errors when you have seen a game like that?

    It hurts me to say it, but Chelsea deserved it.

    And now, of course, in typically optimistic footy fan fashion, we can concentrate on the league...

  • Comment number 7.

    Rather unexpected from a Champions League game. This is the sort of encounter we get many of in the Dutch Premier League - matches that are riddled with mistakes.

    I didn't see that coming from two teams that boast nothing but world star players.

    Great entertainment though. Keep it up!

  • Comment number 8.

    replying to azeb_manc: another trophyless season it maybe mate but you have to admit that your prayers came thru when the mancs didnt draw another english team in the CL, therefore meaning with there below par performances of late, do you think the mancs would have produced a remarkable performance against chelsea at stamford bridge??? be an honest manc fan with your reply ok. and hey just to remind you all you mancs have at this current time is the mickey mouse cup that all manc fans have been calling it anytime liverpool won it...so mate live the real world & quit acting like a typical manc fan.

  • Comment number 9.

    a truly great game by both sets of players and one for all fans to remember... best of luck to Chelsea now, hope they meet the mancs in the final and get some sweet revenge.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think I must have been watching a different match. The game I saw was poor, full of unforced errors. There was drama, fouls aplenty, but nothing approaching good football.

  • Comment number 11.

    Many goals don't mean it was a quality game. It was schoolboy errors. It was entertaining but not because of the quality..

    You say benitez moves around like a midfielder, why is he so fat then?

    Chelsea don't impress me at all, and Barca are going to demolish them. I already know their game plan. Long balls to Drogba so he can cause panic against Puyol and co.

    What we all want is pure football. Barcelona vs Arsenal is that the world is deserving

  • Comment number 12.

    everybody we got a joker in at 8.46am... :-)must be another manc fan already warming his chair for the nervy game coming up tonight... joker

  • Comment number 13.

    One last thing to everyone on here today, can we all please remember this date 20 years ago and also the people who lost there lives so tragically.

  • Comment number 14.

    Schopenhauer, you must have been watching a different match then, for example, Dirk Kuyt's goal was set up by a superb cross, good football? And if by good football you mean technically brilliant, no one wants to watch a team pulling of amazing passes in defense, as that would be boring. Football is a game, and on TV it is there to entertain which is what the Liverpool Chelsea match did brilliantly, and it was a good night in, instead of waching a drab 1-1 draw which is what I expect today with Man U playing.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes there were errors and yes it was a good match - the two aren't incompatible. There were times when it was reminiscent of a 1970s Boxing Day game - a comedy of errors perhaps, but great to watch.

    To whoever thinks Barca will demolish Chelsea - think again. Barcelona are capable of demolishing teams that attempt to beat them at their own game, which
    1. is impossible, and
    2. Chelsea won't do.

    It'll be tight but my money is on Chelsea to sneak it, aggregate score of 3-2.

  • Comment number 16.

    Seriously, some people need to gain some perspective!!!!

    We KNOW it wasn't a quality game in terms of skill last night. No-one is saying it was! But it WAS quality in terms of drama, excitement, end-to-end stuff and the fact that, despite the first leg result, you didn't really know who was going to win this until the last couple of minutes. There are many definitions of quality, and THAT is one of them.

    Why knock the game? Yeah i'm gutted we've gone out, but it was an amazing game and one to be remembered for a long time to come. Good luck to all English teams left in.

    Last nights game was a great entertaining tribute to the lost 96. YNWA.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thoroughly enjoyable game last night, end to end stuff and drama until the final minute.

    Hats off to both, Liverpool gave it their best shot but the 2 goal advantage from the first leg always looked at bit too much.

    Just want to point something out, Liverpool fans backed their team to the very end in both games singing to the end of the 3-1 defeat in the home leg and for the 90mins of last nights match too!!

    The Chelsea team were booed off last night at half time!! This being the same team that still have a chance of winning the premier league, FA Cup and at this point, were still going through to the Semi Final of the Champions League on away goals!!! Tells you all you need to know about the supporters of these two clubs.

    Whitley for the Vase!

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree. This game was purely for specatator and media enjoyment. I loved it. It will talked about for years

    But removing the emotion, it was actually a pathetic game. There was errors upon errors upon errors. Percentage passes completed was bad and loosing the ball unnecessary was abundent.

    Any true football person would be worried. For example. Ask a great coach like Mourinho if he would take a 4-3 win or a 1-0 win. He will tell you he'll take a 1-0 win any day over a 4-3 win. Because he does not care if his strikers could score 4 goals but he would have sleepless nights because his side leaked 3 goals. And that will be a worry more for any great football coach who knows the game. At the end of the day although Liverpool came and gave it a shot to score the required goals they also let in the same amount and vice versa. Where is the trade off? Yes all good and well to remove your holding midfielder, yes remove your right back, but at what cost. Naturally you'll score but at the same time you'll let goals in. In the end Liverpool did not find the balance. The more they scored the more the target of goals needed crept up and that was not wise until the whistle blew.

    Football is not about only about the forwards, it about the backs as well. And between the two ties liverpool leaked 7 goals and chelsea 5. So if I was a coach I'd be seriously worried about that.

  • Comment number 19.

    Id actually bet on chelsea to do Barca. Im a utd fan but agree with one of the Chelsea fans above that you would rather face Barca than another English team.

    With a little luck we can do Porto tonight, then do Chelsea in the final again perhaps???

  • Comment number 20.

    Some of the comments on here are a joke! Seriously, if you came away from watching that game and can only manage to whinge about how many errors there were then you are in urgent need of a hobby!

  • Comment number 21.

    By the way, how come its Paul Fletcher on the blog today and not Mcnulty....I didnt notice until my comment got posted without a 5 hour time delay.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great game of football. Drama, mistakes, passion and skill aplenty.

    It's easy to blame Cech/Reina for the two opening opposition goals conceded but the execution by Aurelio to smack a 35 yard free-kick at pace to just and run across his defender and athleticism from Drogba to direct the ball past Reina were actually superb bits of attacking play and worthy of higher praise than they are getting. If only Drogba tried to play like that for 90 minutes instead of diving round the pitch trying to con the referee.....

    Those slamming Rafa's tactical nous, or claiming Liverpool lost the first leg because they were focusing on the League and couldn't cope with the idea of playing 2 different competitions were shown up for the nonsense they were talking within half an hour of a brilliant opening from the redmen.

    Last week's new 'best midfielder in the world', Essien looked lost without Gerrard to chase around the pitch for 45 mins and the loss of respective captains seemed to affect Chelsea far more than Liverpool.

    That Hiddink was forced to respond with a tactical switch so early is to Benitez' credit as well as to the dutchman for having the balls to make the call so early but Chelsea remained fortunate not to concede a 3rd before the break.

    The 2nd half was a different story and their opening goal clearly gave Chelsea the confidence to press on and score more goals against an increasingly open Liverpool side.

    To seemingly be out of the tie again at 3-2 down on the night and yet respond again, now without Torres on the pitch either, showed the depth of resolve this 'one-man'/'two-man' team have and had the game finished 4-3 to Liverpool i'm not sure many (bitter mancs aside) would say they didn't deserve their victory on the night.

    Overall though the better team over the two legs went through, just. The tie was won at Anfield but there is no doubt pride was restored last night at Stamford Bridge.

    Good luck to Chelsea v Barca.

  • Comment number 23.

    philtoon82 - top comment mate. :-)

  • Comment number 24.

    As a neutral, the game was enthralling. The high octane drama and unpredictability demonstrate why footfall brings so much joy and peace to the world. I have a wife who cannot stand football, but after seeing bits of the game, she has softened up. For me , football was the winner.

  • Comment number 25.

    Congratulations to Chelsea. I thought you were resilient in face of immense pressure and deserve great credit for closing the tie out, as well as for playing exciting football over the two ties, something you haven't been accused of too much in recent seasons.

    We could have done with another goal before half-time to really set your knees shaking, or else with Reina saving Drogba's effort early in the second half.

    Brilliant entertainment, and I wish you luck in the semi against Barca. I also don't think you have any reason to fear your next opponents, they've looked great, but not come up against any English sides as yet in the competition. Chelsea to go through.

  • Comment number 26.

    I hate these 8-goal games. I much prefer the ones without errors, crisp football, 100 percent accurate passing stats etc....well...I think I do...I don't think I've ever seen one except on my playstation. BUT IF I HAD....well I'd definitely prefer it. Brilliant, brilliant tactics by Hiddink to man-mark Gerrard in the stands last night with Terry. He really is a genius.

    Apparently Barca were boring and predictable last night. Not so much "videogame" as "betamaxgame".

    I agree with messi4arsenal. Good luck to Chelsea in the semi but if an English team can't make the final then Arsenal v Barca would be great. (or that the world deserving as he put it).

    I've already got a ticket for both legs of the Arsenal v Man U semi-final. I've got a new book to read about Afghanistan and apparently Old Trafford and the Emirates will be the quietest places to be for us bookworms to read in peace.

    Speaking or worms...this is called idiot fishing.








  • Comment number 27.

    The game was great, even as a Liverpool fan i'm not too disheartened - I had my sulk last week when I figured it was already over, but the lads showed once again that nothing is impossible - It was entirely feasible that we could have got the win by a 2 goal margin needed.

    I think if Drogba hadn't got his big toe to the first goal we'd have gone through, but he did so it's irrelevant.

    Both free kicks were completely different but equally brilliant, even if I do feel both free kicks shouldn't have happened in the first place, and Lamps deserved both goals, even though did almost fluff the first! The second was a great goal though.

  • Comment number 28.

    The performance of Bolton at the weekend played a big part in this game, Chelsea were unrecognisable from their Anfield display.

    I think tactics for Benitez is like playing the lottery, he's no idea why Liverpool are scoring so many goals, he takes off Torres and they proceed to score their only two goals from open play! Mascherano made a difference in midfield but as the most persistent fouler...he should never complete a game.

    The bottom line is Barcelona will be in the final.

  • Comment number 29.

    What a game! Diehard Chelsea fan sat in the East stand last night metres away from LFC fans - have to say your not my most favourite club in the world but you supporters can be proud of your team and all credit to you for singing your hearts out throughout the match..something we severely lack - great game, rollercoaster of emotions,best game seen live by far for entertainment which is all we want surely !? Bring on Barca now - have sneaky suspicion will lose in Spain but turn it around at home with Drogba menacing the Barca backline at the bridge and onto Rome!- Also could yet be Arsenal in CL final and top 3 all have to play them in league yet..beware the gooners... Cmon the Chels!

  • Comment number 30.

    philtoon82 - You can't judge fans on just one game son. Yes, the Chelsea fans booed at half time, but that was down to the sheer rubbishness of our first-half performance. 2-0 down at home with our first leg lead? I think that deserved some fan feedback. We got right behind them from the second half whistle and didn't stop.
    It is not a regular occurence -every single armchair chelsea fan spent that first half cursing the players. Guus himself laid into the team at half time. It doesn't mean you don't support the team, but a little bit of fan disappointment is sometimes a good thing. Unless, of course, you support Man U. I mean, those guys ARE fickle.

  • Comment number 31.

    i wouldnt say the better side won,cos the luckiest side won.it was an encounter that fild with tension right after the first goal.

  • Comment number 32.

    I usually read the blogs with quite a bit of interest. First of all good luck to Chelsea on the next CL round but most importantly kudos to liverpool that never gave up fighting. As a person in my pub said chelsea players needed their shorts changed a couple of times in the game.

    There was an issue I wanted to flag in the game. Drogba display was horrible. Early in the game he was rolling in pain on the sidelines and then rolls back in the pitch....what for. Then he kept playing a player in pain, crying and then he was OK and running like nothing happened to him. He should have been booked in my belief for delaying the game far too often. I think the referee feel for his display and kept on awarding him with fouls no matter what. 3 Fouls on around the same area in less than 2 minutes. Thats what brought the second goal just to remind all.

    Other than that......great display from Lampard.But all the Liverpool players deserve to hold their heads high as this was a fine display in a nerve breaking game.

    Oh and btw to the ones that say this was a horrible game with many mistakes. Well first 45 minutes I dont remember many mistakes from liverpool....I barely remember Reina having to do any saves. After the game opened up, well yes many mistakes were bound to happen.

  • Comment number 33.

    ...one small step for Chelsea last night ...one giant step towards the Roman glory on wednesday 27th of May
    You could see last night how much it hurt chelsea last may in moscow,and they are determined this year to make ammends...

  • Comment number 34.

    what a great game - Liverpool gave it a proper go and after looking like they had no other game plan than to stand on the pitch and wait for 90mins to be up, Chelsea then turned on a bit of style as well.

    Of course there were mistakes, if there were no mistakes then there would never be any goals, and of course some of the defending and goalkeeping (Cech more so than Reina) was questionable... but what excitement... with a couple of minutes remaining liverpool only needed to score 1 more to go through... and then Fat Frank does what he does best and bags another for Chelsea... super game!... loved it!

  • Comment number 35.

    what a match?i think hiddick should be Dr mourinho successor at chelsea.for a super sub he made,by bringing in anelka.he should try and find a replacement 4 cole because of messi.he's very dangerous.best of luck.true blues 4 life.o fokasibe

  • Comment number 36.

    surferShaz:

    'Ask a great coach like Mourinho if he would take a 4-3 win or a 1-0 win. He will tell you he'll take a 1-0 win any day over a 4-3 win'

    Actually, if you think about it a 4-3 win will be more beneficial than a 1-0 win. Although the goal difference will be the same, if goal difference is equal then it would go to goals scored. Thus a 4-3 would be better than a 1-0.

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh and Drogba...what a fantastic player.

    What a terrible play-acter.

    We really saw the best and worst of Drogba last night.

    And a final word, Clive Tyldsely it is Drogba not DrogbaR. Drives me mental!

  • Comment number 38.

    If Chelsea aren't to win this years premiership then i hope liverpool can catch man u and take it. I don't like either of them really but i've always just opted for man u over liverpool, however after last nights amazing spectacle (and certainly the buzz of winning is a part of it) i feel slightly warmer to liverpool, got to hand it to you guys you really pushed it to the edge.

    having said that i still believe Chelsea can catch you both! Come On Chelsea

  • Comment number 39.

    Without mistakes you will not see many goals in football. it is all part of the game.
    21 men gave us a great game to watch. Too bad there was 1 miserable excuse for a football player that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It is only because of Drogba that i hope Chelsea will never win a trophy again.

  • Comment number 40.

    As a United fan all i can say is that neither team deserved to lose that game, an absolute cracker where both teams played there part from the first minute to the very last.

  • Comment number 41.

    I was never more proud after loosing a tie.BUt I hold my head high.Altho Chelsea didnt play as a team comparing to us,but credit to them!I dont blame Reina for first goal.take closer look its Skertls foult,he shuld just stick his leg out and it would be different story.Reina was wright to be yard of goal line as he was covering approaching player just behind him.And this goal out of nothing suddenly give Chelsea believe.Shame that Nando missed two great chances but great heart and team spirit for all the players.Man of the match?...10 of them in the team,all of them except Skertl.
    Lucas was great by the way,give him some credit!

    Go on U BARCA!

  • Comment number 42.

    To DubRtd,

    It has to be said that Drogba has changed a lot since he cam under massive critisism for his 'rolling aound on the ground' technique, and its not so common to see him doing it these days. However we saw him go back to it in last years final with man u and again yesterday. It seems that sometimes the big matches bring it out in him. As a chelsea fan and a massive supporter of didier drogba, i have to admit that i really don't like it, but i have to wonder, does it work?

  • Comment number 43.

    Messi4Arsenal... "What we all want is pure football. Barcelona vs Arsenal is that the world is deserving"
    When you played pure football, a few seasons ago (when you were good and thier was a top 4 not a top 3) you had that final and lost... remember?

    Liverpool and Chelsea proving Premiership football is the greatest in the world... Another all english final anyone?

  • Comment number 44.

    Great match, and Chelsea did well in the end. Apart from Drogba, who utterly disgraced himself throughout with his diving and complaining.

    Neither goalkeeper will be especially pleased with their respective performances...

  • Comment number 45.

    Great fun, great to see 8 goals in a game, but shocking displays from guys who get millions for playing football. Barca must be rubbing their hands at the thought of a bye into the final.
    So Liverpool conceeded 7 in the tie, and I am told Benny tez is a master tactician?
    I think Acrington Stanlely would have scored a few against Chelsea or Liverpool last night.
    The league might be the richest, but on this display it's poor quality. I don't think Man United will show much better quality either, but a match of the same score tonight would seem them qualify....
    The ref last night was shocking !

  • Comment number 46.

    outstanding Game CL game of the season thus far and unlikley to be better. As for mistakes that people keep mentioning, Rafa taking off Torres anyone? For me he threw in the towel FAR to early and should have kept him then we may have been looking at a very different story. As is however Liverpool are out of the CL and IMO will fail in the EPL, shame consider how much they have improved this seaon that they won't lift a trophy.

  • Comment number 47.

    when it's 0-0 or 1-0 we're told Liverpool v Chelsea is boring

    when it's 4-4 it's shocking, poor quality defending, error strewn....

    seems some people just love to moan regardless of what's dished up in front of them

    and if 'Benny tez' (sigh) is mocked for his lack of tactical nous for Liverpool shipping 7 in the tie by Chelsea fans, what on earth do they make of Hiddink for letting his Chelsea team concede 7 inside 4 days to an obviously tactically inept Liverpool and the hoof-it merchants of Bolton?

  • Comment number 48.

    Really unfortunate for Liverpool not to come home with the result they were looking for after that performance. Magnificent. Liverpool ran Chelsea off the ball and dominated the first half of the game. At 2-0 up, I really did believe it would all work out. There's a lot of talk about Hiddink's role in the comeback, but really, as the second half began, although Chelsea has positioned themselves further up the pitch, they were the same as before. Nervous, and poor. That was, until the lucky goal. I say lucky, because Reina 99% of the time would have picked that one up. Somehow - and not his fault, it slipped away and he knocked it into his own net. The most unfortunate of own goals.

    That changed everything. Suddenly, Chelsea picked up the pace, and their plastic fans began cheering - yes, i think they were actually supporting their team!

    Had Reina saved that minor touch by Drogba, it would have continued the same way - Liverpool dominating. However, from that point on it was a different match.

    Credit to chelsea for coming back and finishing it off with a draw. But Liverpool can take real pride from an outstanding performance. Without Gerrard the arguably best midfielder in football (and the Captain) AND Torres.. who went MIA!!!! The team really gave everything, and were most unfortunate. I think again, Liverpool have shown why and how they are a class above all other teams. Had Gerrard not been injured, I think Liverpool would have gone through. Imagine Chelsea without one of their best players last night! - maybe Drogba, or Lampard... ?

    4 goals at stamford bridge........ !!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    ThomThomTiger

    No dad i wasnt basing this post on just 1 game. Every now and again there is always some incident that makes me dislike Chelsea fans more and more. Most of which has came about since Abramovich strolled into town.

    i remember the final game of the 2004/2005 season when Chelsea's final game of the season was away to Newcastle, a game that ended 1-1 but Chelsea had already won the league a few games earlier away to Bolton and Chelsea didnt even sell out their allocation of tickets at St James. Bearing in mind that this was the first league title that Chelsea had won in FIFTY YEARS surely any fans that are worth their salt would have sold out their allocation of tickets and turned up to create a carnival atmosphere to celebrate only their 2nd league title in the clubs history? dont you agree?

  • Comment number 50.

    Either deliberatey or out of ignorance, most of u chelsea fans dont want to state the fact that Guus Hiddink in recent past has not coached a side beyond the semifinals of a major championship. Once again you have reached the end of the road.
    its not just messi you have to worry about, Henry, Eto, Xavi, Iniesta, and even Alves would cause you problems. Go barca! Go barca!

  • Comment number 51.

    it was a great game...8 goals scored and that was more than enough! the game was full of excitement, drama and passion! I can't believe that some people complained about the number of goals scored...it a game finished with a 1-1 result people say not enough goals scored...if it finishes with a 4-4 result people still complain too .That beats me...
    as for the goal errors, well it happens in every field whether it is sporting or medical..we are humans after all...finally , regarding liverpool not lifting any trophies this year,,,as a liverpool fan i am disappointed to say the least but after all we have to be realistic and not to expect to lift every single trophy every single year..we are still holding the record number of 18 leagues so far( barring united winning it this season) and 5 CL ( or its equivalent), a record for english clubs and the third in europe after the galacticos and AC MILAN..so it is not bad after all...i do hope next year things will turn to the best,,,the signs are on the wall and God willing will get there ...thanks once again chelsea and liverpool for a pulsating game!

  • Comment number 52.

    #50 royalCescisthebest

    Has Guardiola coached a side beyond the semi-finals of a major championship yet?

  • Comment number 53.

    It is strange, both Chelsea and Liverpool fans seem to have earned a mutual respect for each other after last nights match, and all the criticism on this blog is coming from Arsenal and Utd fans...? A little worried about tonite maybe, ManU scared of an approaching liverpool in the league, Arsenal frustrated at being left behind by the bigger clubs and facing the prospect of anohter trophyless season???

  • Comment number 54.

    52. At 11:26am on 15 Apr 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #50 royalCescisthebest

    Has Guardiola coached a side beyond the semi-finals of a major championship yet?

    ---

    A good point, but how many chances has he had?

    Either way, the guys point is completely wrong as he won the bloody thing with PSV.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think a lot of credit for last night's pulsating match(and last week's)has to go to Hiddink. The previous mind-boggling bore draws were played mainlu under Mourinho. Benitez and Mourinho had more of a personal duel goin on, thus the ties were more tactical and nervy. The approach taken by the managers was to see who can crack first, whereas Hiddink seeks to land the first blow, and thus l'pool responded. I'm sure had Jose stil been ere, we wud not have witnessed this great spectacle last nite. Well done both to both teams, but I was ecstatic to see the scouse get eliminated, now my team United gotta make sure they do not get a sniff of nicking our title!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Very refreshing reportage for a change.

    It was pleasing to see that Chelsea took the game to the opponents rather than sit back. No defence is unbreachable. Today both teams proved the weight of that centuries old maxim. You just have to go out and take initiative. This is a new Chelsea side under the Dutchman. Now they have the answers to going a goal or two down. The situation galvanizes Chelsea whereas earlier it used to paralyse them into helpless zombies. Now they do not even care to shut up shop,like in Mourinho days.

    Some snap observations on the play:-

    Torres was a bit listless today. Aurelio's extra ordinary free-kick goal! What a goose it made Cech look! That penalty Alonso wangled from the young and inexperienced Serb was as crafty a piece of con as they come. Not every referee would have cared to award it. Lucas had a big slice of luck in scoring his goal, inadvertently deflected off Essien's arm. Chelsea could count their blessings as, but for the end-result Essien might have received a booking. Drogba's goal could just as well be classified as an own goal. But I am yet to imagine a goalkeeper not reflexively extending his hand to a ball passing barely 3 feet away from the goalmouth. Drogba's deft touch and then seeing the ball in the netting was a tribute to the highest qualities owned by this superlative bully of a striker. He also provided two excellent lay-ups for Ballack and Lampard. Ballack is very wasteful. For a player of his international stature, Ballack botching up a dolly from Drogba was dismally depressing. And he does that regularly. What a sublime goal from a thunderous free kick from Alex. If there's one thing I'll always remember it is this goal. It was one of those that are made by 'fates'.

    Whole world sings paeons in praise of Gerrard. Spare a thought for Lamps. What he has been doing for Chelsea on a regular basis, without an injury or a suspension lay off! Just who matches that?

    Best piece of football of the evening came from, who else but the incomparable Essien, when he headed off that certain Liverpool goal at the last line of defence. The feat didn't seem to leave any pumped up ego either.

    From an aesthetic point of view first leg, from drama and suspense angle second leg.

    Against Barca Chelsea will have some problems. Let them have no illusions that they can easily cover up for their very under-rated LB in Cole. Its a very specialist position and Ashley sure brings a consummate degree of skill to his role here. Now that he is suspended, they are really going to miss him just as much as they missed Terry last night. But for his suspension he would have been matching his wits against the irrepressible Messi, never easy to contain. Whoever deputises , will need to have some very big 'pocket' as the popular phrase goes.

  • Comment number 57.

    for all those complaining about the game, it was a quarter final of the CL, the tie was on a knife egde and with so much at stake there was bound to be some mistakes. What about the great goals scored? Alex free kick? Kuyt's header? also Fabio's free kick (bring back memories of Garry Mac against the toffes?) all quality. Fair enough some errors but it was a pulsating game full of drama.

  • Comment number 58.

    @8:50 Messi4arsenal

    What we all want is pure football. Barcelona vs Arsenal is that the world is deserving.
    ---
    No, that is what Arsenal fans want.
    Every other fan wants to win at all costs. If that means putting 4 past Liverpool, then I'm not complaining.
    Good luck on another trophy less season :)

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    The game is the talk of today - and I am not living in the UK. It reminded a bit of the film "300", Rafa Benitez and his team as King Leonidas and his Spartans who tried the impossible and won a lot of admirers. Liverpool always seem to be involved in that kind of crazy games, incredible their passion and belief!

    To both sides: thanks for a fantastic football night.

    I think Chelsea deserved to go through after their excellent performance at Anfield. With Hiddink I would even see them as favourites to go through against Barcelona. Good luck to Chelsea, it could come to another Chelsea v Manchester Utd final now!

    As for the poor people who complain about the quality of the game yesterday: is just envy or do you really have such a miserable life?

  • Comment number 61.

    As for Drogba.... well well well.

    In my opinion, he should have received a yellow card for his blatant 'fake' injury that left him lying on the floor OFF the pitch... and then when realising no-one cared for him, rolling himself back ON to the pitch to hold up play.

    He was clearly timewasting.. knowing that Liverpool needed to score 3 goals, and this he did at the beginning of the game. Why else fake an injury and stop play, only to be running around freely again seconds later.

    Drogba is a disgrace of a player. I hope nobody credits him with a goal last night when Reina blatantly knocked the ball into his own net.

  • Comment number 62.

    At the end of the day Chelsea were the better side at Anfield & in the end that was the deciding factor. I felt we showed great spirit last night & really made Chelsea work for their Semi Final place without Steven Gerrard considering we are only a one man team. One bad point from the evening has to be Drogba's behaviour though, the man is a world class talent who has everything yet people will always think of him as a cheat and last night proved it. He is 6 foot 2 14 stone of muscle yet goes down at the slightest touch the man has no honour.

  • Comment number 63.

    To be honest, Drogba's awful, awful antics were the only sour note on the night.

  • Comment number 64.

    7. At 12:02pm on 15 Apr 2009, kneerash wrote:

    for all those complaining about the game, it was a quarter final of the CL, the tie was on a knife egde and with so much at stake there was bound to be some mistakes. What about the great goals scored? Alex free kick? Kuyt's header? also Fabio's free kick (bring back memories of Garry Mac against the toffes?) all quality. Fair enough some errors but it was a pulsating game full of drama.

    ---

    Lampards decider was also a great goal.

  • Comment number 65.

    So begins the Drogba-bashing!
    Face it: Chelsea and Liverpool drew 4-4. No dirty tricks. And there were no Chelsea complaints against that 'penalty'.

  • Comment number 66.

    Great game of football. Hats off to both sets of players for a top match. Oh, except for Drogba, the bloke is a complete embarrassment.

  • Comment number 67.

    Last night only strengthened my belief that it was a disgrace for Frank Lampard to miss out on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist. If Chelsea end up winning a major trophy this year and Lampard maintains the level he's been performing at for the entire season, he has a very good shot of winning Football Writers' Player of the Year.

    Anyway, fair play to Liverpool for last night - I naively ruled them out before the game - but the best team deservedly went through in the end.

  • Comment number 68.

    Last night's game was exciting but be not fooled it was low on quality. Yes the first goal was class and Alex freekick will also be remembered for a long time but the midfield battle was rubbish...

    Who made it rubbish - Mascherano! While some complain about Drogba, they fail to see that it is the same thinking that inspires Mascherano to consistently foul others when he can't get the ball.

    Its called win at all cost - even Gerrard shows the same mindest when he does his own diving act to earn penalties for Liverpool. So stop being hypocritical and lay off Drogba, he is a GREAT footballer!

    Goodluck to Chelsea against Barca, you will need it against the one true genius of a player in this era - Lionel Messi. Don't forget though that despite his skills, Messi is also a diver in the penalty area.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ooops, post 69 was supposed to read "I'm no Liverpool fan, just as I'm NO Chelsea fan"

  • Comment number 71.

    Drogba has come in for some stick and rightly so, but Liverpool have their own "fake it villains" in Alonso and Gerrard, week in and week out, so please watch the glass windows as you keep throwing those stones.

  • Comment number 72.

    If anyone has ever seen Alonso or Gerrard faking injury, then realising they are off the pitch so roll back onto it to get play stopped, then bizarrely roll down their sock to show, surprise, surprise, absolutely no mark on their shin whatsoever - then i'd love to see it...........

  • Comment number 73.

    i cant believe ppl are bashing drogba,when he scored 1,set 1 up and played a part in lampards second goal!without him chelsea would not have got the result they needed.

  • Comment number 74.

    Not much comment either about the Liverpool player (can't remember which one)who tried his very best, and suceeded in getting Cole a yellow card. Its horrible to watch referees getting conned all the time, but it seems players in all teams do it, not just Drogba.

  • Comment number 75.

    I was going to post this last night but 606 closed on me, but if Cech plays as horrendously as he did yesterday then forget 4, Barcelona are going to score double figures.

  • Comment number 76.

    Tommy Onion.......I have seen Gerrard earn a penalty agst A.Madrid and Alonso get Lampard sent off, and everyone knows exactly how and why they did it.

  • Comment number 77.

    Chelsea fans seem to be complaining a fair bit here about the repeated complaints (by Liverpool fans mostly) about the emmaculate diving ability of Drogba. Yes, you're right in that Gerrard dives... Ronaldo dives, Van Persie, El Hadj Diouff... even Pires in his time... and of course the daddy of them all in Klinsman!

    What Drogba does is not simply dive, but dive, roll around in 'pain' off the pitch, then on the pitch because no one saw him... late in the match, rolling around in pain because he tore his sock... was surprised he doesn't go down when someone calls 'man on!'

    Give us a break!

  • Comment number 78.

    I'm Chelsea through and through and obviously delighted with last nights result, it was heart attack football. Well done to Liverpool though for scoring 4 goals and almost getting there (twice!!). I wouldn't have complained. I'd settle for the same again against Barcelona but 1-0 will do too!!! :)

  • Comment number 79.

    I think we can all agree that we saw the best and worst of Didier Drogba last night; his 'play acting' frustrates all fans (including Chelsea), but his sheer strength and power caused Liverpool's defence all sorts of problems.

    If we can keep him fit and in the mood, we stand every chance of beating Barcelona.

  • Comment number 80.

    damn you scolari for letting bridgey go to man city. we knew it would bite us in the backside. should have let cashley go. totally over-rated and we've won bugger all since he turned up. thought the game was immense last night and liverpool can feel pretty unlucky they bossed virtually the whole game. and to the chelsea fan who said it never would have been 4-4 if mourinho had been in charge. if he had been we probably wouldnt have been 3-1 up from the 1st leg

  • Comment number 81.

    #30 - i agree, it is unfair to judge fans on just one game - but that's at least two games now that Chelsea have had to put flags on EVERY seat to create some atmosphere! And even then, you couldn't be bothered to wave them until the result was no longer in doubt at 4-4! Liverpool showed you what proper fans do over both legs, you support your team, whatever the outcome...

    YNWA

  • Comment number 82.

    76. norapeti


    Gerrard went down easily against Atletico, i'll give you - he didn't fake injury though and blaming Alonso for Lampard's sending off is pathetic


    and neither incident was a patch on Drogba's embarrassing antics last night

  • Comment number 83.

    philtoon82

    There was a carnival atmosphere - it's just it was at the Bridge for the final home game against Charlton (where we celebrated with the trophy) and the penultimate away game, when we bopped Untied 3-1. When you've had Gary Neville clapping your team onto the pitch (he hated it), getting a full away allocation in for an essentially empty game all the way up to St James' comes a poor second. No, it's not ideal but I think it's perfectly understandable and no reason to hold it against the fans. I'm telling you, you're imagining it.

  • Comment number 84.

    Both teams displayed a beautiful game, despite some errors. for me M Ballack was the man he did a good job going from end to end. chelsea produced 11 goals in 3 matches but also conceding 8. the question is, are there any goals left for Barca game?

  • Comment number 85.

    The fact that Drogba did play so well last night, well in the 2nd half at least, merely makes his bevaviour even worse.
    Yes Gerrad dives, but he wasn't playing last night, and my comments (as a non-Liverpool supporter) and others' comments are based on last night's game.
    Now, I've had 2 posts "referred to the moderator", so does anyone want to do the same with this one?

  • Comment number 86.

    74. At 1:48pm on 15 Apr 2009, norapeti wrote:

    Not much comment either about the Liverpool player (can't remember which one)who tried his very best, and suceeded in getting Cole a yellow card. Its horrible to watch referees getting conned all the time, but it seems players in all teams do it, not just Drogba.

    ---

    You mean the blatant obstruction? Get a grip.

    Not ONE person is denying Drogba is a fantastic player, but you see the way he BULLIES people off the ball (fairly) with his brute strength and balance and then goes down without any contact arching his back at every tackle when he can't get past someone - it's pathetic and embarrassing at times.

    Watch Chelsea's 4th goal again, he's about to go down on the right wing but realises the ball is going to a Chelsea player, he runs over the defenders foot, arches his back as if he's about to go, but the ball reaches his teammate so he stays on his feet. Teammate passes to Lampard, great finish, tie over.

    His playacting really does overshadow his great skill, technical ability and strength.

    Tell me the last time Gerrard or Alonso got injured off the pitch, then, when realising he's off the pitch therefore the game won't stop, ROLLS BACK ON to get the game stopped (thus stopping a Liverpool attack in Chelsea's half), gets back up once the game has restarted and runs around normally. It really is awful, awful sportsmanship.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not the reason we didn't go through, and even if he hadn't playacted for the free kick which Alex absolutely thumped in, we'd have still gone out on goal difference. Just a real shame.

  • Comment number 87.

    That was a fantastic game. Did anyone see Essien clear the ball with his head? Spectacular! Essien is world best.

  • Comment number 88.

    I agree with the people who say that the match was at times poor in terms of quality - that there were too many mistakes and sloppy passages of play. Personally, I think that made it a much more exciting encounter than if Chelsea had kept it tight for an hour and slowly closed out the tie.

    The first two goals gave the atmosphere inside the stadium a real edge, while the goal rush after the break ensured it was a night to remember.

    Not a match for those who admire technique and tactics above all other things but if football loses its ability to be unpredicatable then why bother?

  • Comment number 89.

    87. At 2:07pm on 15 Apr 2009, AfricanFootballRules wrote:

    That was a fantastic game. Did anyone see Essien clear the ball with his head? Spectacular! Essien is world best.

    ---

    If i'm being honest I think Essien looked a bit lost last night without anyone to follow around all game. They should put him at Left Back for the Barca game and have him keep hold of Messi if he can.

  • Comment number 90.

    Although im an arsenal fan, i have to give credit where credit is due. Chelsea did a professional job on liverpool who infact have been very lucky in games this season. I thought their luck was going to bring an average side to the semis again! Thankfully not, chelsea were showed character and strength something arsenal lack, but are gaining. Chelsea are miles ahead of liverpool, only for the changing of managers they would be top of the league leaving utd and liverpool competing for second. Arsenal have a good chance with all there players back and only for injuries, i would say we would be closer in the league, but thats football. Next year liverpool will struggle once utd and chelsea get there act together. At the start of the season they had high hopes, yet now they have nothing, apart from that league they havent won in god knows how long. You never know they may fluke that title anyway. But so far it looks like they have had the least successful season of the "Big 4", not even an FA cup semi final to look forward to. Hope utd win the league as its the best thing for football, as liverpool play boring football, a neutral can not watch that pityful passages of play, apart from torres scores the odd good goal.

  • Comment number 91.

    i totally agree i think Essien would be on the left with Barca. . i can not think of anyone else could do the job. but Guss is the man, he will think of something.

  • Comment number 92.

    #11 messi4arsenal: I already know their game plan. Long balls to Drogba so he can cause panic against Puyol and co.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Simple as your an idiot. Out of the 7 goals scored by chelsea over the 2 legs how many were scored by punting long balls up to drogba. Try watching a game so that you can make an informed opinion rather than regurgitating stereotypical views of a chelsea side from the mourinho era.

  • Comment number 93.

    Simple as your an idiot. Out of the 7 goals scored by chelsea over the 2 legs how many were scored by punting long balls up to drogba. Try watching a game so that you can make an informed opinion rather than regurgitating stereotypical views of a chelsea side from the mourinho era.

    ---

    I think 2 of the goals you scored last night were due to long balls. The free kick was a long ball to Drogba, and I think your 4th was a long ball but I may be wrong.

  • Comment number 94.

    A lot of Drogba criticism and though I haven't been his biggest fan you have to ask why the hypocrisy? A few Rafa facts to put things in perspective.

    First leg, Drogba has the opportunity to go down in the penalty area under Skrtel's knee high challenge, he stays on his feet to take the shot that is cleared on the line by Carra. Same match, dying minutes Dirk Kuyt swan dives for no reason in the Chelsea penalty area with barely anyone around him. No card, no penalty, just cheating.
    For Ivanovic's first goal, Xabi Alonso tries to bear hug him, but is shrugged off, the same move that gets Liverpool a penalty in the second leg. A few minutes later, Ivanovic is pushed in the face by Lucas at another corner. No huge cries for penalties, he just gets on with it.
    Same match a crowd of Liverpool players surround the referee to ensure John Terry is booked for a 50:50 challenge with Pepe Reina, waving imaginary yellow cards in the air. He's duly booked and misses the second leg. Throughout, Aurelio and Arbeloa kick lumps out of Malouda and Kalou. Chelsea get on with it.

    Second leg: Following Alonso's penalty, Ivanovic is shoved off the ball in the Liverpool penalty area. He jumps back to his feet and gets on with it. Arbeloa goes down clutching his face after being pushed in the chest by Ashley Cole, getting him booked and making sure that he misses the 1st leg with Barca. There is even some talk by commentators of an imaginary elbow, he makes out he is that injured.
    Arbeloa then studs Michael Essien at knee level to make sure he doesn't break away but gets away with a yellow card as again no fuss is made. For the 2nd Lampard goal, Drogba is again fouled in the penalty area, but doesn't go down, allowing Anelka to pick up the ball and cross for arguably the best goal of the tie. In fact, I can't think of any occasions where he has gone down in the penalty area over both legs. He seems to ride the challenges in those situations and believe he can score.

    Long post but my main gripe is that everyone is glossing over deliberate foul play by Liverpool over two legs and focussing on Drogba, who while annoying wasn't even close to being the biggest cheat on the pitch.

    Thoughts please ...

  • Comment number 95.

    goal is a goal, long ball short ball, free kick,.... doesn't matter, u don't get more credit for scoring a better goal, so get over it guys.

  • Comment number 96.

    90. At 2:13pm on 15 Apr 2009, GunnerDeburca wrote:

    classic WUM


    lucky, boring Liverpool top scorers in the Premier League


    here's hoping we can indeed 'fluke' the League title this year !

  • Comment number 97.

    94. At 2:20pm on 15 Apr 2009, optimistic_cynic wrote:

    Thoughts please ...

    ---

    Most of what you said is absolute rubbish and clearly about as one-sided as you can get.

  • Comment number 98.

    The whole game last night revolved on mindset. Chelsea came in nervous, rather than confident and assured, possibly because of the mental letup on Saturday. Liverpool came in with nothing to lose, on the back of a good weekend performance. The first goal rattled Chelsea, and some serious self-doubt set in. Instead of seeing it as a simple mistake, they saw it as a fulfillment of their doubts. The penalty further hammered this doubt home. They could not wrap their minds around the fact that, despite playing better, Liverpool had not opened Chelsea up in open play yet.

    In the second half, it took Reina's mishandle for Chelsea to get back some measure of belief that they could get things back on course, and you could see, particularly after the Alex free kick that confidence was coming back, and had Ballack scored instead of passing back to Reina, I don't think that the game would have ever been so close. As it was, a pure chance goal, deflected off of Essien (what fool said that he should have been booked - it hit his arm which he was trying to keep back), served to bring back the initial doubt, and to spark Liverpool. Kuyt's goal was excellent, and really had me worried. Lampard's equalizer seemed to come despite Chelsea's faltering.

    To me, the most pressing issue is the fact that Chelsea seem to have a very fragile psychie when put under pressure, especially when falling behind. Sometimes they respond well, as at Anfield, and sometimes they respond poorly. Luckily, they seem to respond reasonably well to a verbal kick to the posterior from Guus.

  • Comment number 99.

    Some very stupid comments about long ball goals from Liverpool fans. Liverpool beat man U 4-1 with 3 ong ball goals. I for one thought Liverpool were awesome in that match and destroyed Man U. Are you now saying you were rubbish when you beat Man Um or is this just yet another example of double standards.

  • Comment number 100.

    The Unused Substitute - spot on. Both sides of Drogba on display there last night. Incredible strength made our defence look weak, Carragher and Skrtel barely won a ball off him all game, he's almost unplayable when he stays on his feet and uses his upper body like that. However his play-acting is made all the more obvious by his obvious physical attributes. He could do a lot worse than watch Rooney play, another player with considerable strength who rarely goes down easily or feigns injury. Having said that he probably doesn't want to pick up Rooney's temper. I'm not claiming that Drogba is the only player who play-acts but he does it in such an obvious way that he really is inviting all the criticism he gets. If he could remove that from his game he would get nothing but praise.

    It's something that no-one likes to see in football, except when the player in question is your team's striker and it's a crunch match in the league/cup and time is running out. Then it doesn't seem quite so bad does it? "Yes, he dived but the defender left his leg in so it was probably a foul anyway," you kid yourself. I'm not proud when LFC players dive or play-act. I think Arbeloa was most obviously guilty of it last night: Cole did not deserve a yellow for that challenge.

    On a separate but similar note it's interesting that all the Chelsea fans who laud Drogba's ability to 'legitimately bully' players off the ball (as I think someone put it) and yet when Mascherano does this it is called 'fouling'. Mascherano is tenacious in the extreme, a bit hot-headed sometimes but he is still young. A few more years and he won't be mis-timing so many of those tackles ;-)

 

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