It will go down as one of the best European nights at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea beat Napoli 4-1 after extra time at a loud and boisterous Stamford Bridge to progress into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Chelsea were led tonight by the old guard; Petr Cech made some really important saves while Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard all scored for Chelsea.
In polar opposition to the side that AVB fielded in Italy in the first leg, Roberto di Matteo went with the old guard tonight in Chelsea’s biggest game of the season. John Terry was back in defense alongside David Luiz, while Michael Essien and Frank Lampard were chosen in midfield with Didier Drogba up-front.
It took Chelsea and the crowd a little while to settle and Napoli took advantage to create two or three good shooting opportunities in the first 15 minutes. But Chelsea’s experience told and they never panicked and slowly fought their way back into the game.
Napoli’s defence was all over the place every time the ball was crossed into their penalty box and it was not a surprise that Chelsea got their first goal from a cross after 28 minutes. Ramires curled in a teasing cross from the left and Didier Drogba got in front of his marker to bury a diving header into the bottom right-hand corner. 1-0 Chelsea and 2-3 on aggregate.
Napoli held out until half-time but three minutes into the second half and Chelsea were ahead 2-0 when John Terry makes a wonderful near post run to glance home Lampard’s corner beyond De Sanctis and into the net. Suddenly Chelsea were ahead on away goals.
Chelsea seemed take their foot of the pedal and after Terry’s goal and Napoli spent the next six or seven minutes camped out in the Chelsea half and it was no surprise when they scored. John Terry headed away a cross from the left, and it Gokhan Inler chested the ball down on the edge of the box and hit a terrific first-time half-volley past a static Cech. 2-1 on the night, but Chelsea now needed a goal just to take it to extra time.
And it was Chelsea legend Frank Lampard who got it with 15 minutes to go. Once again a cross caused Napoli problems as Ivanovic’s header from Lampard’s corner was clearly handled by Andrea Dossena. The referee pointed to the spot and Lampard stepped up and buried the penalty. 3-1 Chelsea on the night and 4-4 on aggregate.
The last 15 minutes was played at a frantic pace as neither side wanted extra time. But with no more goals in regulation we went to extra time.
And right at the end of the first period of extra time, Chelsea got a goal from an unlikely source. Ramires feed the ball into Drogba on the right touchline, and his low cross found Branislav Ivanovic unmarked eight yards out and he slammed the ball beyond De Sanctis and into the roof of the net!! 4-1 Chelsea on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.
Napoli pressed and pressed the last 15 minutes but Chelsea are playing much better defensively under di Matteo and they were able to keep Napoli at bay to seal a famous Champions League victory.
This has been such an up and down season for Chelsea but they now find themselves in the last eight of the Champions League. If they can avoid Barcelona and Real Madrid in the draw, Chelsea now have a great chance to return to the Champions League final. Who would have thought I would be writing that three weeks ago after the first leg in Italy?
What did you think of the match tonight and Chelsea’s performance?
This post originally appeared on our Chelsea blog.