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Blues force Camp Nou stalemate
28 Apr 2009 - 21:51:32
Chelsea produced a disciplined defensive performance as they held Barcelona to a goalless draw in a tight Champions League semi-final first leg clash at the Camp Nou.
In a game of few chances Didier Drogba went closest to scoring for Chelsea when he was denied by Victor Valdes while, at the other end, Bojan Krkic contrived to head over a gaping goal in stoppage time.
Petr Cech was also forced to keep a Samuel Eto'o shot out but Barcelona rarely threatened to break the deadlock as the two teams met in the Champions League for the fourth time in five years.
There were worrying signs for Chelsea in the opening stages when Cech flapped at a cross but, when play moved to the other end, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien set up Frank Lampard who lashed a first-time shot narrowly wide.
However, there were very few chances in the opening quarter of the game as Barcelona, despite passing the ball well, were unable to open up a Chelsea side that were holding their shape and defending well.
In the 34th minute Cech was forced to make the first save of the game, getting down well to keep Thierry Henry's powerful low drive out.
Chelsea's best opportunity came five minutes before half-time when a superb double save by Valdes kept the scores level.
Drogba latched on to Rafael Marquez's under-hit back-pass but the Barca keeper parried the striker's powerful shot. The Ivory Coast international then tried to dink the rebound over Valdes who leapt high to keep the ball out.
The start to the second half was a stop-start affair although, immediately after the restart, Michael Ballack headed Drogba's clipped free-kick just over the bar.
Barcelona were forced into a reshuffle in the 50th minute when Marquez had to go off with a knee injury with Carles Puyol coming on to replace the Mexican.
As Barca stepped up the pace after the hour mark Cech was forced to parry Daniel Alves' powerful drive before the Brazilian's free-kick beat the wall but was just too high and landed on the top of Cech's net.
With 20 minutes left Eto'o burst clear from the halfway line and held off challenges from John Terry and Alex only for Cech to deflect the Cameroon international's shot away for a corner.
In the 74th minute Jose Bosingwa was lucky not to concede a penalty after appearing to pull Henry back as the Frenchman tried to get a shot in on goal but the referee waved Barca's appeals away.
Barcelona created their best opening in stoppage time when Bojan headed the ball over the bar from virtually underneath the crossbar and there was still time for another late substitute, Alex Hleb, to be denied by Cech.