It was a memorable night in West London as Chelsea gave their European Champions League hopes a real shot in the arm as they defeated current holders Barcelona 1-0 in the first leg of their Semi-Final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 18th April 2012. Keeping the Catalan giants at bay, the Blues contained wave after wave of Barcelona attack and admittedly rode their luck at times with Guardiola's men having fifteen shots on target in contrast to Chelsea's two. A quiet night for their Argentinian maestro Lionel Messi, the best player in the world failed to add to his impressive goal tally for this season as the Chelsea defence kept tight on the prolific forward and did not allow him space. Chelsea once again proved an unlucky opponent for Messi with the game being the seventh game that he had failed to score against them.
With Barcelona's dominance, Chelsea found a breakthrough when against the run of play, the Catalan side lost possession and handed it back to the Blues. Taking advantage of this possession loss and catching them on the break, Frank Lampard passed to Brazilian midfielder Ramires who set up in form striker Didier Drogba to coolly slot the ball in the net with a left footed shot making it 1-0 to the home side just before half time.
Enjoying over 70% possession, Barcelona continued to press Chelsea in the search to find an equaliser. Despite their efforts, Chelsea remained resolute and solid as a unit, largely thanks to the brilliant defensive partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill. The visiting team enjoyed a handful of close chances with Adriano seeing a shot parried away by Blues keeper Cech, Pedro hitting the post late on and midfielder Cesc Fabregas having his effort heroically cleared off the line by his former Arsenal team mate Ashley Cole.
Chelsea held onto a valuable win and most importantly held onto a clean sheet. Despite only winning by the small margin of one goal, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo would be happy to come away from the game with his team not having to chase an away goal deficit when they return to Nou Camp for the second leg. This game was another great chapter in the history of past Chelsea and Barcelona encounters, the previous being the controversial meeting at Stamford Bridge three years ago when a last minute Andres Iniesta goal denied Chelsea a route to the Champions League final. That game courted controversy for the amount of clear and apparent penalty claims Chelsea had been refuted, much to the disgust of Didier Drogba. This time around, controversy was on the cards again as Drogba, perhaps with his own brand of poetic justice, saw his simulation and diving acts go unnoticed and appeared to set the tone for Chelsea's style of play in this fixture. Now Chelsea must visit the Nou Camp in the return leg of the Champions League Semi-Final, still in the pursuit of their European dream and still very much with their destiny in their own hands.
Down at Stamford Bridge for the game were WinkBall video reporters Alex and Daniel. Speaking to both sets of fans, they were asked their predictions for the game, if they thought their team could go all the way to the Champions League final and their reactions of the game afterwards.