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Chelsea FC and Valencia CF may be teams led by the very best of the new generation of coaches, assembled at 21st-century prices, but from the off in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg it was clear it was going to be, as the English cliché goes, an old-fashioned cup tie.
End to end
The sight of two sides lining up with 4-4-2 formations, each with plenty of reason to attack, to the backdrop of a raucous atmosphere at the defiantly traditional Mestalla Stadium saw to that. First Valencia bore down on the Chelsea goal, Joaquín Sánchez and David Silva on the flanks seeking to supply the steel-and-silk partnership of Fernando Morientes and David Villa. Then Chelsea assumed control, Frank Lampard's corners causing chaos in the home box on more than one occasion.
But Morientes has seen most things in this competition, and with Valencia looking for breathing space, the striker decided it was time for his 33rd UEFA Champions League goal. It nearly came when his ferocious left-footed shot struck the post, and the woodwork was still rattling when he deftly turned in Joaquín's cross on the volley; a supple manoeuvre for a man who recently turned 31. Morientes, though, was not the only man with a prolific knack of scoring in Europe.
Andriy Shevchenko's equaliser in the 52nd minute was not among the most spectacular of his 59 goals in UEFA club competition, but his technique and presence of mind meant that although Santiago Cañizares was decently placed, he had no chance of repelling the Ukrainian's close-range strike. The goalkeeper had a bit of pedigree in the tournament himself, and the way he dived at full stretch to flick a Michael Ballack header around the post near the end was breathtaking - as had been a stop late in the first half to deny Didier Drogba.
Yet Chelsea continued to look the more dangerous, as they had since José Mourinho brought on Joe Cole at half-time and combined him with Shevchenko and Drogba in a flashback to recent times when they ruled England with a fluent 4-3-3 system. Michael Essien's climactic winning goal on 90 minutes meant the Blues are now just three matches away from conquering Europe too, although Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC will have different ideas.
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