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Chelsea 4 Napoli 1: Old guard march on as veterans seal last-eight spot

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After the stirring speech came the stunning performance. John Terry said this could be one of their greatest nights and so it was, this ageing Chelsea team simply refusing to die, to give up on a dream, on a quest for the ultimate prize.

By the end of this astonishing 120-minute contest, they were on their knees. Michael Essien was at centre half because an injury meant David Luiz could no longer run. Terry had already left the field after somehow battling for 98 minutes only three weeks after he had surgery on what was considered a serious knee injury.

Mr Chelsea he most certainly is, and blue blood still flows through his veins when his reputation, indeed his career, remains on the line amid the chaos of his off-field problems.

 

It is amid total chaos that Chelsea delivered, a team without a permanent manager eliminating a stylish Italian side who looked unstoppable in Naples last month.

What lifted them was the knowledge that, for many of these players, this could be their last chance to succeed in a competition that has proved so painful, their last chance to lift a European Cup that has eluded them despite one final and four other semi-final appearances.

With that in mind, the old guard mustered something even Jose Mourinho would have considered special. Terry was an inspiration but so were Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as the veteran trio produced the goals that sent this extraordinary last-16 tie into extra time.

It still needed one more to avoid the penalty shootout that would have brought back haunting memories of Moscow, and it was from Drogba that the final ball came. 

Ramires, irrepressible in midfield, made the crucial advance up field but it was the 34-year-old Ivorian who delivered a pass that Branislav Ivanovic met with a brilliant right-foot shot seconds before the extra-time interval.

Stamford Bridge erupted and it did so again when the final whistle arrived. Roberto Di Matteo sprinted on to the pitch and jumped into the arms of Drogba before congratulating the other players over whom he has temporary control.

 

Source: Daily Mail


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