"For the whole first half we were tense and frozen by the fear of being eliminated." Didier Drogba
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Unexpectedly placed in temporary charge two months previously, Guus Hiddink picked up from where his predecessors left off by guiding Chelsea FC to a fifth UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance in six seasons – but what a fright Liverpool FC gave him.
The Reds' 3-1 first-leg deficit was a formidable barrier but Fábio Aurélio's free-kick and Xabi Alonso's penalty soon had the scores level. Chelsea roared back with second-half goals from Didier Drogba, Alex and Frank Lampard; somehow, Liverpool still were not dead and buried. Lucas's deflected shot and Dirk Kuyt's header left the home supporters fearing the worst before Lampard scored again with a minute remaining to take relieved Chelsea through to a meeting with FC Barcelona.
Shorn of the injured Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's desire was apparent from the off, but their early passing lacked sharpness, even if they created a good chance in the 13th minute that Fernando Torres fired over. The Reds soon found it when they were awarded a free-kick on the right, though, following a push by Lampard on Torres. Aurélio deceived everyone by arrowing his delivery inside Petr Čech's left-hand post.
Liverpool had their tails up and swiftly scored again: Branislav Ivanović was penalised for a tug on Alonso, who calmly slotted in the spot kick. Hiddink immediately sought to invigorate his team, replacing Salomon Kalou with Nicolas Anelka. The striker was slow to find his stride but a positive raid down the right led to Chelsea regaining the aggregate lead. A dangerous ball played under pressure was helped on by Drogba close to the byline and Pepe Reina was unable to keep it out at his near post.
Six minutes later Liverpool's lead on the night was wiped out as Alex fired in a free-kick with immense power, and Chelsea seemed to have put the issue beyond doubt in the 76th minute when Drogba surged away and Reina could not keep out Lampard's side-footed shot.
Eleven minutes from time Lucas's drive diverted in off Michael Essien and then, incredibly, Kuyt headed in Albert Riera's cross. One more goal and Liverpool would be through but instead that went to Chelsea and the inspirational Lampard. Time to breathe at last.