Quick Report: Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool

Chelsea are through to the final of the Champions League. At Stamford Bridge, Liverpool were beaten 3-2 after extra time.

Things were looking for for Chelsea when Didier Drogba scored the opening goal from the rebound after an effort by Salomon Kalou.

But four minutes after the hour mark, it was Spanish striker Fernando Torres to level the score after good work by Yossi Benayoun.

Extra time was needed to decide the clash, as last week’s first leg had the same 1-1 result.

Seven minutes into extra time, Chelsea were awarded a penalty for a Hyppia foul and an emotional Frank Lampard converted from the spot.

Drogba netted his second of the night in the 115th minute, and it all seemed to be over for Liverpool.

But the Reds gave their opponents one more scare as Ryan Babel got one back in the 116th minute, mostly thanks to a Cech mistake.

Chelsea held on though, and advance to Moscow to face Manchester United in what will be the first all-English Champions League final.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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PSG kicked out of next season´s French League Cup

Paris Saint Germain will not be allowed to defend their title in next year's French League Cup after a controversial banner was displayed during last month's final, the Professional Football League (LFP) ruled on Wednesday.

But the president of the LFP disciplinary commission Jacques Riolacci said that the club would not be deducted points because the racist connotation had not been established.

“The disciplinary commission didn't find that the banner, despite shocking a lot of people, was strictly racist,” said Riolacci.

A points deduction would have been disastrous for the club who are currently mired in a desperate battle against relegation from the first division.

A criminal investigation has been opened aimed at finding those responsible for “inciting hatred and violence” against northerners.

The 25-metre long banner unfurled during the second half of the match targetted inhabitants of the industrial northeast of France, home to Lens, who were contesting the final at the Stade de France, which PSG won 2-1.

“Paedophiles, unemployed, inbreds: Welcome to the home of the Ch'tis (nickname of people from northeast France),” the banner read.

On the orders of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was attending the match, the banner was quickly removed by security forces but not before the damage was done.

The offending banner was a play on the recent box-office cinema hit “Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis” (“Welcome to the Land of the Ch'tis) which painted a rosy picture of northerners in stark contrast to the usual image of unemployed, suicidal and alcoholic folks prone to violence.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Grieving Lampard back for Chelsea

Frank Lampard returned to the Chelsea team for their Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool after mourning the death of his mother.

Lampard missed Saturday's win over Manchester United following his mother Pat's death from pneumonia last Thursday, but the England midfielder trained with his team-mates this week before telling Blues manager Avram Grant he wanted to play at Stamford Bridge.

With Lampard back in midfield alongside Claude Makelele and Michael Ballack, Grant switched Michael Essien to right-back in place of Paulo Ferreira.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez handed John Arne Riise a chance for redemption after the Norway left-back's own goal gave Chelsea a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Benitez also sprung a surprise by picking Yossi Benayoun ahead of Ryan Babel on the left-wing.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Fiorentina coach Prandelli hoping for a magic night

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli said he was hoping for a bit of magic on Thursday when his Serie A side host Rangers in the UEFA Cup semi-final, second leg.

The tie is finely balanced at 0-0 after the first leg at Ibrox last week and Prandelli believes his team's fans can make the difference at the Artemio Franchi stadium here.

“We're preparing ourselves for a magical evening, we're proud of what we've already achieved,” said Prandelli at Wednesday's pre-match press conference at the stadium.

“We have to be aware that it will be like this and we must have the joy and pride to be the protagonists in a European semi-final.

“Our fans will win the match for us tomorrow, with their support we will be carried all the way to the final.

“Everyone talks about the English and Scottish fans but our fans can match them.”

Prandelli revealed his team were getting so excited about the return leg that he has had to calm them down in training.

“I feel calm, we've prepared everything to do well. In training I've had to reduce the tempo because the players were going too fast.”

There was a fear that Fiorentina would still be hung-over from the disappointment of conceding a goal deep into injury time against Sampdoria at the weekend.

That earned their visitors a 2-2 and saw AC Milan cut La Viola's lead in the race for fourth spot – and Champions League football next season – to just two points.

But Prandelli denied that would have a detrimental effect on his team.

“On the contrary, against Samp we showed we could come back from a deficit (they were 1-0 down),” said the former AS Roma coach.

One worry is that the second leg will be as dull as the first, when Rangers played particularly negatively to avoid conceding an away goal.

“I'm convinced they won't play the same way as they did in the first leg,” added Prandelli.

“They will play higher up the pitch because this time they have to score a goal.

“We have to take risks but we'll try to do so with the right balance.”

For one Fiorentina player there is a special incentive with the final due to be played at Manchester's City of Manchester Stadium.

Adrian Mutu previously played in England for Chelsea but his spell ended in acrimonious circumstances as he was fired after testing positive for cocaine.

The Romanian striker denied there would be any extra satisfaction in going back to prove some people wrong.

“Tomorrow's game is one in which we can achieve our dream, which is to play in the final,” he said.

“Going to Manchester with the violet shirt would be great.

“What happened (at Chelsea) was a long time ago. It makes no difference to me, I just want to get to the final.

“I have nothing to prove to British football, only to my coach here.”

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Bayern have nothing to fear insists Ribery

French midfielder Franck Ribery insists Bayern Munich have nothing to fear when they tackle Zenit St Petersburg in Thursday night's UEFA Cup semif-final, second leg in Russia.

The 25-year-old scored a stunning goal – he curled his shot home from 35 yards – in Sunday's 4-1 Bundesliga win over VfB Stuttgart.

But Bayern must score in St Petersburg to stay in the competition having drawn last week's first leg 1-1 in Munich.

The Bundesliga leaders have their sights set on a domestic and European clean sweep.

They would be the first German side to do so if they add the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup to the German League Cup and German Cup titles they have already won.

However their hopes of appearing in the Manchester final on May 14 took a dent when Lucio's own goal gave the Russian side a 1-1 first-leg draw in Bavaria last Thursday.

But with Ribery and Italian World Cup striker Luca Toni in form, Bayern travel to Russia in determined mood.

“We'll go there with confidence,” said Ribery.

“There's still everything to play for and we aren't afraid of any team, even on their ground.”

Bayern can draw inspiration from fellow German side Bayer Leverkusen, who triumphed 1-0 at the Petrovsky Stadium in the quarter-final, despite a 4-1 defeat from the first leg.

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat's Zenit side – the current Russian league leaders and reigning champions – have been tough to beat at home and are hoping to become only the second side from Russia to win the UEFA Cup.

While Bayern were in action on Sunday, Zenit's game against FC Terek Grozny was postponed until July 1 to give Advocaat's side extra time to prepare.

And Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has given his team a clean bill of health.

Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and defender Philipp Lahm have shaken off knocks which forced them out of the win over Stuttgart, while Toni is back after missing the first leg against Zenit through suspension.

Long-term injured midfielder Hamit Altintop is the only name missing, while both Mark van Bommel and Miroslav Klose will play with broken noses.

“It is always important when everybody is on board and we are at our strongest,” said van Bommel, who – like Lahm and Lukas Podolski – is one yellow card away from a ban which would keep him out of the final.

“We are all completely convinced we can go through, not just now but before the season even started.

“This is the first (European) semi-final since a few years and so it is very important, we want to win four titles this year.

“This is a chance you get maybe one or two times in your career and we will all do what we can.”

Having broken his nose in three places during the first leg, Klose says Bayern must go hard in Russia.

“The only way is to be fully committed and go full throttle,” said Klose.

“We go there to win and are convinced that we will win it.

“The atmosphere in the team is good and everybody believes we can do it.”

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Is Drogba going to leave Chelsea?

DonÂ’t be surprised to see Chelsea striker Didier Drogba leave the club at the end of the season.

Since he expressed a desire to leave the club in an interview with France Football magazine a few months back there has been much speculation as to when and where he might be going.

Already Real Madrid had shown some interested in the striker.

Former team mate Arjen Robben, now with Real Madrid praised Drogba by saying that he is presently one of the finest strikers in the world.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Minute by Minute: Chelsea – Liverpool

The semi final stage of the UEFA Champions League continues with the second leg clash between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC. SoccerWay keeps you up to date on the most important events.

Current score: 0-0
More match information: Here.

Feel free to register or log in and start using the ‘discuss’ option below to give your opinion on this match!

Kick-off is expected at 20:45 CET.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Israel club wins league clincher reprieve

Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem, infamous for its ultra-nationalist fans, won a reprieve on Wednesday from a crucial league match forfeit this month just four minutes from time.

The Israeli Football Association ordered that the club, supported by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, be allowed to replay against Maccabi Herzliya, which was called off after thousands of fans invaded the pitch on April 13 in premature celebration of their team’s winning of the league.

The replay is set for May 20.

Beitar, with a 12 point lead over second seeded Maccabi Netanya, needs one more win to clinch its second consecutive league championship.

Owned by Israeli-Russian billionaire Arcady Gaydamak, Beitar has had repeated run-ins with the football authorities.

In November, the association banned Beitar fans from two home matches after they booed through a minute’s silence in memory of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Some fans even sang songs praising Rabin’s murder by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist who was jailed for life after he shot the Nobel peace laureate three times in the back following a Tel Aviv peace rally on November 4, 1995.

The Israeli premier is a prominent supporter of Beitar but has spoken out against the behaviour of his fellow fans, who have been involved in repeated disturbances with followers of Israeli Arab clubs over the years.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Didier Drogba slams Rafa Benitez

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has admitted that he has lost all respect for Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

Benitez had criticised the Ivorian for his theatrical behaviour in the meeting between the two teams in last week’s first leg of the Champions League at Anfield. The match ended 1 – 1.

This comes on the eve of the second leg due to kick off in a matter of hours at Stamford Bridge in London.

Benitez claimed that Drogba was too quick to go down when challenged. He also said that he had kept a file on his alleged diving tactics that goes back for a number of seasons.

The Chelsea striker said he thought that the tirade against him was a ploy to unsettle the Merseyside outfit before the crucial second leg.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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Sagnol disciplined for slamming Bayern

French defender Willy Sagnol was not on the plane to St Petersburg on Wednesday for the UEFA Cup semi-final, second-leg, after being disciplined by Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

The 31-year-old Frenchman was left behind in Munich after complaining to the media following Sunday’s 4-1 win over VfB Stuttgart where he was played out of position in midfield.

He will miss Thursday’s UEFA Cup semi-final at Zenit St Petersburg, having missed the first-leg, which finished in a 1-1 draw.

“Sagnol will have to watch for the time being,” said Hitzfeld on the club’s website.

“He’s not coming with us to St Petersburg, he’ll train here twice instead.”

This is not the first time this season Sagnol has criticised the club, having slammed Bayern’s bosses for his lack of match time in December last year and he was angry at being chosen in midfield for Stuttgart.

“I don’t enjoy this position at all,” Sagnol said after the game.

“I’m still in a trough. I was hoping for more help in getting out of it, but it’s not been forthcoming.”

But Hitzfeld explained his decision and had no time for the Frenchman’s complaints.

“As a defender you’re often last man and have to go one-on-one, but he’s not yet recovered his pace and match rhythm,” said the Bayern coach, who leaves in July to coach Switzerland.

“So I was trying to accommodate him, in that I actually gave him a game in the first place, because he has no automatic right to be playing at the moment.

“There are other players in better shape than him.”

Hitzfeld says he wants “to assist” Sagnol with much-needed match practice in the run-up to this summer’s Euro 2008.

“In the meantime, he’s apologised twice to me personally for the remarks he made,” said Hitzfeld.

“I told him he needs to work even harder on himself to rediscover the old Willy Sagnol, and we all have extremely good memories of him.”

Sagnol required surgery on a serious cartilage injury in early April last year, and only resumed the squad programme in late November.

The France star was then sidelined for several weeks with a slipped disc in March this year.

Sagnol has made 15 appearances for Bayern so far this season.

Wed 30 April, 2008
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