Chelsea to face Man U in Champions League final

Updated: 10 May 2008 07:47 IST

Avram Grant has done what Jose Mourinho never managed to accomplish with Chelsea - put the London club into the Champions League final.

Chelsea to face Man U in Champions League final

London:

Chelsea has a new "Special One". Avram Grant has done what Jose Mourinho never managed to accomplish with Chelsea - put the London club into the Champions League final.

"There's only one Special One," Grant said with a smile after Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 to in extra time to reach the Champions League final against Manchester United.

"But this was special against Liverpool."

Grant hasn't had an easy time in the eight months since he replaced Mourinho, the self proclaimed "Special One".

But while Mourinho won the European Cup with FC Porto in 2004 before guiding Chelsea to two Premier League titles, he never got past the semi-finals of Europe's top club competition
with the Blues.

Under Mourinho, Chelsea lost to Rafa Benitez's Liverpool in the semi-finals in 2005 and '07.

"They are a fantastic team and Rafa played tactically," Grant said. "You need to be clever against him but we did it. We have created history and I am very proud we did it my way.

"But I don't like to say 'I' because (owner) Roman (Abramovich), he created this club, my staff are excellent, my assistants, everybody."

The Blues' 4-3 aggregate win sent them to the final on May 21 in Moscow.

It's the first all-English final in the Champions League, and it will feature the two clubs fighting for the Premier League title. Both teams have 81 points, but United leads on goal difference with two games remaining.

Frank Lampard, playing for the first time since his mother died of pneumonia last on Thursday, scored from the penalty spot in the 98th minute and Didier Drogba added his second goal of the night in the 105th.

Lampard didn't speak afterward, but Chelsea captain John Terry praised the midfielder for returning to the team.

"What a character Lamps is to come in on Sunday and train and try and block out what has been a terrible week for him and his family and everyone close to Frank," Terry said.

"I'm sure Frank will dedicate the goal to his mum tonight."

Lampard beat Pepe Reina with his penalty in the 98th minute after Sami Hyypia had brought down Michael Ballack in the area.

The Chelsea midfielder ran to a corner flag after he scored and kneeled. He then took off his black armband, looked to the sky and kissed it.

After embraces from his teammates, Lampard ran back to the center circle and pointed to his father in the crowd. Frank Lampard Sr. was also a professional soccer player.

"Frank played very well and in my opinion was one of our key players today," Grant said. "It is not an easy thing, he is under ... you know what he is under. "He gave everything to the team".

Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel scored for five-time champion Liverpool, which lost to AC Milan in the Champions League final last year.

"I thought we were very close. We played well in the second half, but the third goal killed it," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said.

"We had control of the game. We had two chances in extra time and we were in control, and we were preventing them from creating."

Lampard's penalty came only three minutes after Chelsea thought that Michael Essien had scored. But the goal was called back for offside.

Chelsea, which hasn't lost in 12 straight home games in the Champions League, was playing in the tournament's semifinals for the fourth time in five years. It lost to Monaco in 2004.

Grant said he was proud to "create history in the first year as a manager, with all the difficulties we had this year."

"We stayed together and did things in the positive way with a lot of thinking," he said. "Not just (that) we came to the final, but the way we did it.

Chelsea is also undefeated in 82 games at Stamford Bridge.

No London club has ever won the Champions League. United, which beat FC Barcelona 1-0 Tuesday to advance to the final, has won the European Cup twice, in 1968 and 1999.

Chelsea's only European success was in the Cup Winners' Cup, which it won in 1971 and 1998.

Drogba scored the game's first goal in the 33rd minute by tapping in a rebound after Salomon Kalou's initial shot was pushed away by Reina.

Before the match, Benitez accused Drogba of being a diver.

"Benitez is a fantastic coach and I was a bit disappointed but I think he felt his team was not strong enough and Chelsea were going to beat them," Drogba said.

"I am just happy for my team and I don't want to think about others.

"It's not good for my image. I'm giving my best to put my team at the top and I think it's not fair but it's finished."

Torres equalized in the 64th, knocking in a pass from Yossi Benayoun and sparking loud cheers from the traveling Liverpool fans.

After Lampard's penalty, Drogba added another by scoring off a cross from Nicolas Anelka, who had replaced midfielder Joe Cole at the beginning of extra time.

Babel scored the final goal in the 117th with a shot that slipped through the fingers of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

In last week's first leg, Chelsea earned a 1-1 draw at Anfield off an injury-time own-goal from Liverpool defender John Arne Riise, who started on Wednesday.



Topics : Football
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