Demba Ba's late strike sends Chelsea to semis following dramatic victory

AP, Tuesday 8 Apr 2014

Chelsea go through on away goals rule with a 3-3 aggregate draw

Chelsea's Demba Ba scores his side's 2nd goal during the Champions League second leg quarterfinal soccer match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Chelsea overturned a two-goal deficit against Paris Saint-Germain to squeeze into the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday, with Demba Ba scoring against his hometown club in a 2-0 victory that sent his side through on away goals.

After losing 3-1 in the French capital last week, Andre Schuerrle began Chelsea's comeback in the second leg with a first-half strike. However, it took substitute Ba to grab the scruffy but crucial goal in the 87th minute to secure the 3-3 aggregate result.

"I think everyone probably doubted that we would do it," Chelsea captain John Terry said. "But I think we showed great character, great desire and will to fight no matter what."

Having been frustrated recently with the performances of his strikers, one of them delivered for Jose Mourinho when it mattered most.

The Chelsea manager was elated, flamboyantly sprinting from the bench to join his celebrating players, who collapsed in a heap on the pitch.

"It's a good victory but so many semifinals for me, so many semifinals for Chelsea," Mourinho said. "Nothing extraordinary."

It came a decade after Mourinho's memorable dash down the Old Trafford touchline in a game against Manchester United during his Porto side's run to the Champions League title. Now Mourinho, having failed to bring the European Cup to Chelsea during his 2004-07 stint in charge, remains on course to win the competition in his first season back at Stamford Bridge.

Joining Chelsea in draw on Friday is Real Madrid, which lost 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund but still went through 3-2 on aggregate. On Wednesday, Bayern Munich hosts Manchester United, and Barcelona takes on Atletico Madrid after both first legs ended 1-1.

For PSG it's another season of heartbreak in the quarterfinals — a victim of the away-goals rule just as against Barcelona last year.

"That's what big games are about, it doesn't come down to much," PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. "We were up against a big team. We had the chance to score and we didn't, so we paid the price for it. It's all down to the details.

"We're really disappointed tonight. We'd done the hard work in the first leg by getting a two-goal lead."

Although PSG's wait to reach the Champions League semifinals again will go into a 20th year, the team is on the verge of wrapping up its French title defense, holding a 13-point lead.

But in this duel of billionaires from Russia and Qatar, Roman Abramovich's investment prevailed over the newcomers from the Gulf.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic injured, PSG was without the striker who has contributed 10 of PSG's 25 goals in the competition this season. Edinson Cavani was relied on for goals but fluffed his chances as Chelsea extended its run without conceding at fortress Stamford Bridge to nine games in all competitions.

In a lively start, a menacing cross from Maxwell was sent to the feet of Cavani, but Petr Cech saved at the striker's feet.

What seemed to be an early setback for Chelsea proved fortuitous, with Schuerrle replacing the injured Eden Hazard after just 18 minutes and scoring in the 32nd.

Branislav Ivanovic launched the ball in from the right, and it was flicked on by David Luiz. Left completely unmarked by Alex and Lucas Moura, Schuerrle had the time and space to calmly dispatch the ball into the net.

Until that point, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had only had two serious saves to make, from Frank Lampard's free kick and Luiz's long-range strike.

But, even though Chelsea's play was far from incisive or flowing, now the hosts had hope.

The crossbar thwarted them twice within two minutes at the start of the second half: first from Schuerrle's curling shot and then from Ocsar's free kick.

Mourinho beefed up the strike force in the 66th, bringing Ba on to support the ineffective Samuel Eto'o up front.

PSG's progress could have been sealed in the 78th when Yohan Cabaye launched the ball forward to Cavani, who missed the target with only Cech to beat.

With 10 minutes left to keep Chelsea in Europe, Mourinho brought on the third member of his strike force, with out-of-favor Fernando Torres replacing Oscar. Soon, the strikers that Mourinho had criticized in recent weeks were celebrating.

An initial shot by Eto'o ricocheted to Cesar Azipilicueta. The defender's shot found its way through the visiting defense, and Ba beat Maxwell to the ball — sweeping it past Sirigu with a left-footed shot from the top of the six-yard box.

"In the second half, Chelsea was a lot better and we lacked a bit of fluidity," PSG manager Laurent Blanc said. "But Chelsea believed until the end and they were rewarded."

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