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Chelsea rise to the occasion

Published: Wednesday 9 March 2005, 10.00CET
The English, French and Italian leaders earned press praise but it was a case of what might have been in Spain.

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Published: Wednesday 9 March 2005, 10.00CET

Chelsea rise to the occasion

The English, French and Italian leaders earned press praise but it was a case of what might have been in Spain.
The dust is still settling on a thrilling night of UEFA Champions League action following victories for Chelsea FC, AC Milan and Olympique Lyonnais in the Round of 16. Today's papers across Europe pick through the debris.

Chelsea FC 4-2 FC Barcelona (agg: 5-4)
In a bewitching game at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea thrillingly refused to pay homage to Catalonia. Just when it looked as if Barcelona were going through to the Champions League quarter-finals on the away-goals rule, John Terry plundered the most precious goal of his career. Exploiting Barcelona's long-standing fear of Chelsea's strength at set-pieces, Terry rose superbly to meet Damien Duff's 76th-minute corner with a header that will go down in Blues legend. (Daily Telegraph, England)

It wasn't to be. In a match that will live long in the memory, Barça were the victims of their own mistakes - they were three down after 19 minutes - and a refereeing error, and ended up on the losing side. Chelsea's fourth goal sunk a Barça team which never threw in the towel and which had the best player on the park in Ronaldinho. With a penalty and a quite extraordinary goal, the Brazilian had kick-started his side and had José Mourinho's team up against the ropes. But it wasn't enough. (Sport, Spain)

AC Milan 1-0 Manchester United FC (agg: 2-0)
One goal in each game and a 2-0 aggregate scoreline which the English side have to accept as the consequence of a tie in which they were not only unable to score, but also unable to understand what kind of match they had to play. In both legs Milan seemed to have the situation under control, always setting the tempo. That's why the real winner in this derby between 'devils' was Carlo Ancelotti, who gained revenge over Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, whose team eliminated Capello's Juventus from this competition in 1999. In a strategy game between the coaches, Ancelotti made no mistakes at all. Milan were essential and lethal. It was their eighth win in a row, including six 1-0s. Nothing to do with luck: Milan understand their current limits and know there is time to become a more spectacular side. (Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy)

A night of throbbing disappointment for Manchester United concluded with Sir Alex Ferguson's team being eliminated from the European Cup and facing a lengthy inquest into their shortcomings at the highest level. Just as in the first leg, Hernán Crespo's second-half goal was decisive but the crucial factor here was Milan's expertise in subduing an attack that Ferguson likes to believe, wrongly it seems, is the most potent in Europe. (The Guardian, England)

Olympique Lyonnais 7-2 Werder Bremen (agg: 10-2)
This was not just a win but a triumph, not just a night of qualification but one of great promise. No one can predict where Lyon's story in the Champions League this season will end, but it is possible to imagine this morning that they enter the quarter-finals having served notice of their new standards. (L'Equipe, France)

They wanted another 'Werder wonder'. What they got was another hammering. This was an extremely embarrassing elimination from the Champions League. Bremen had lost their first leg 3-0, but many Bremen fans were still confident they could beat the French champions at their own stadium. What nonsense. Thirty minutes were enough for Lyon to be 3-0 ahead - and it was 7-2 by the end. By selecting three forwards, coach Thomas Schaaf risked everything and lost everything. Werder's biggest defeat in six years under Schaaf really hurts German football. (Bild, Germany)

Last updated: 09/03/05 12.38CET

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