Five, Ten, Fifteen
feature Sun 9 Apr 2017
In our latest look back at events from five, 10 and 15 years ago, European quarter-finals and a goalscorer back on track were the stories of the day...
Chelsea in this past week in 2012 took a very big step towards the Champions League final but with an even greater one to be attempted.
First came the conclusion to the quarter-final with the Blues firm favourites to make it through having returned from Portugal with a 1-0 lead over Benfica. Our second-leg progress at Stamford Bridge was not smooth however, as the Lisbon club put in a much stronger performance than on their home turf.
The first half went well enough for Chelsea. Frank Lampard scored from the penalty spot and the visitors were reduced to 10 men by a sending off for Maxi Pereira. But then we were profligate in front of goal before we were punished at a set-piece inside the final 10 minutes. 1-1 on the night and the tie on a knife edge. Another Benfica goal would turn their position from defeat to victory but a late Raul Meireles goal against old rivals settled it. With our opponents throwing men forward, he counter-attacked and smashed the ball home.
'It is one of those situations when you think pass the ball, pass the ball, pass the ball - and then you say well done at the end!' manager Roberto Di Matteo admitted were his thoughts when Meireles went on the break.
‘It was a cracking goal that Raul scored. He enjoyed it very much. We expected it was going to be a hard game and it exactly proved to be that. We made it more difficult for ourselves by not scoring a goal in the second half with all those chances, and that kept Benfica alive.’
Now for Barcelona! 'Obviously they will be favourites because of the way they've been playing,’ said Lampard looking ahead to the semi-final, ‘but we've got a lot of belief in ourselves here, and we know we'll have to perform at our absolute best to get the result against them and we believe we can do that.'
The Champions League quarter-final was still at the first-leg stage this time in 2007 and the Blues hosted a strong Valencia side, although they were without Fernando Morientes who had ruined Chelsea dreams of making the final three years earlier when with Monaco.
Instead the Spaniards moved young starlet David Silva from out wide to up front alongside David Villa, and it was the future Man City player who opened the scoring with an incredible strike past Petr Cech from around 30 yards out and wide on the left.
Chelsea had hit the bar before that goal, Salomon Kalou the player going close and it was our other Ivorian who scored the equaliser. Route one was the pathway to goal. Ashley Cole cleared long and as the ball bounced high, Didier Drogba nodded his 30th of the season over the advanced keeper (pictured top).
However there was no further way past Quique Sanchez Flores’ side so it ended 1-1. We would need to score in Spain the following week to stand a chance of going through but we had already done so twice in Barcelona and once in Porto in this campaign.
Before the second leg there was the no small matter of taking our unbeaten home run against Tottenham up to 20 games. On this occasion a single Ricardo Carvalho strike from distance was sufficient.
The prolific Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had unusually not scored for four games going into a home Saturday league match against Everton in early April 2002, but he received a boost on the Friday when he was one of six nominated for the PFA Player of the Year. A day later, the Dutchman returned to the scoresheet in style.
His first in a 3-0 win was a chip from well outside the area after the ball bounced his way off a defender and just before half-time he had his second. A free-kick, won by Hasselbaink, was back-heeled his way by countryman Bolo Zenden and the smashed shot went in via a deflection off the defensive wall.
In the final minute Gianfranco Zola scored with a volley, not long after young Carlton Cole had come on for his debut. A much earlier substitution had taken John Terry off following a collision with a goal post that opened a big cut on his forehead.
Bandaging would be his look during a big performance soon to come. The Everton win moved us up to fourth.