Chelsea shine bright in the Stadium of Light; Blues defeat Benfica in quarter-final first leg
Chelsea shone at the Stadium of Light securing an extremely impressive 1-0 away win against a notoriously strong Benfica side in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
Salomon Kalou snatched a late goal after some excellent work from the energetic Fernando Torres down the right side. After the Spaniard left his marker trailing, he was in a great position next to the byline where he picked out the Ivory Coast international, who slid the ball into the net with a deft touch of his boot.
The West London side got their tactics spot on, with interim boss Roberto Di Matteo opting for the likes of Kalou, Raul Meireles and David Luiz instead of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill. They played resiliently, taking the sting out of the game for large periods and silencing the boisterous home crowd with controlled and well crafted link-up play.
There was never a stage where the home side looked like cracking Chelsea with Terry, and in particular Luiz, putting in remarkably assured performances at the back. However, the biggest relief for Di Matteo and his rejuvinated side will be in the form of Torres.
Slick skills, intricate runs and a vital assist were all signs that he really could be on the verge of starting to show why Mr Abramovich paid so much for his services.
Since Villas-Boas’ departure, Chelsea have looked more collected and more of a unit. Although they may be struggling in the league, their form in the cup competitions will certainly be pleasing Abramovich, who now surely must consider Di Matteo as a serious contender for the manager’s vacancy.
Chelsea will look to carry this form into their clash with Aston Villa at the weekend.
Real Madrid have one foot firmly planted in the semi-finals after 3-0 victory in Cyprus against Apoel. Karim Benzema netted two and Kaka was also on the scoresheet.
In the FA Cup, Tottenham booked a semi-final meeting with Chelsea thanks to a comfortable 3-1 win over Bolton. The match was rescheduled after Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest, but the Bolton players were unable to provide the recovering midfielder with positive news on the pitch, as Spurs sailed through impressively.
In the night’s other tie, Everton defeated Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light and will now contest a Merseyside derby with Liverpool in the other semi.