When my phone alarm went off at half past midnight, I did not waste a second. I jumped out of bed, ran to the kitchen, and fixed myself a nice cup of hot cocoa. I turned on the television and anxiously watched the lineups for the Champions League second leg clash between Chelsea and Liverpool. Chelsea held a commanding 3-1 lead, and the football pundits placed the odds of Liverpool going through at 10-1, so this game was pretty much a done deal. Still, as a Blues faithful, I had to watch.
However, for the first nineteen minutes, I did anything but watch. The game was going nowhere and my eyes were practically shut. At the nineteen minute mark, Fabio Aurelio, Liverpool's Brazilian left back, set the ball down to take a free kick. Although he scored a wonder goal at Old Trafford a couple weeks back, I was impassive because he was taking the kick from 30 yards out. After he struck the ball, I expected a Chelsea defender to head clear, but to my surprise, it rolled into the back of the net. He fooled everyone by going for goal, including Chelsea's goalie- Petr Cech. The game was on.
Needless to say, my eyes were open now, but Chelsea still held a 3-2 aggregate lead, so I was feeling comfortable, hot chocolate in one hand, and an unsent message to my friend, an avid Liverpool fan, in the other. The game progressed, and I was somewhere between watching and sleeping when I saw the referee point to the spot. I immediately jumped up, nearly spilling hot chocolate on myself, and watched the replay. Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea's hero from the week before, had just fouled Liverpool's tenacious center midfielder Xabi Alonso inside the penalty box. Alonso stepped up to take the spot kick, and converted it. The tie was 3-3 on aggregate with only 28 minutes gone by. Like every other Chelsea fan around the world, I was actually getting worried.
Half time came around and relieved me of my anxiety. Liverpool sent wave after wave of attack, but still had not scored the crucial third goal. However, it was only a matter of time, and even I was beginning to lose faith. Then, 6 minutes after halftime, Didier Drogba, Chelsea's Ivorian striker, flicked the ball off of the Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina and into the net. Chelsea had turned the tide.
Yet, the best was still to come. About 5 minutes after our first goal, Alex lined up to take a free kick. The Brazilian defender was not known for his goal-scoring prowess, but was notorious for his strength. The ball was about 25 yards out, and he ran into it, pounded it, and BOOM! “GOOOOOOOAAAALLL!” It was a sublime finish, with the ball whizzing past the goalkeeper and into the net. Chelsea had some breathing room and I could finally enjoy my drink again.
Chelsea was finally looking like the team to beat in Europe. After levelling the scores and taking the pressure off, they starting pressuring the Liverpool goal more and more. Fate had twisted the fortunes of the two teams, and now Chelsea was knocking on the door of a third goal. It would not be long before their wishes were answered. Didier Drogba, who was having one hell of a game, broke free from two defenders and laid out a ground cross for Frank Lampard to tap in for Chelsea's third goal. All's well that ends well, I thought. Liverpool deserves some credit, but they just were not good enough.
Once again, I spoke too soon (I should really stop doing that). Liverpool equalized through the young Brazilian Lucas's deflected shot. It seemed like a consolation goal until Dirk Kuyt converted in the 81st minute off of an Albert Riera cross. It looked like I jinxed my team once again, and my hot chocolate was finished, so I had nothing to console me. I could only hope there would not be any more goals.
What came next was fate not listening to me, but in a good way. Frank Lampard, arguably the best Chelsea midfielder in the club's history, finished superbly off a Nicholas Anelka ground cross to level the game at 4-4 once again in the 89th minute. I was not going to give up on the game, for I had seen what could happen, but I let a smile creep across my face. We had done it. The boys in Blue had done it again. I fell asleep on the couch.
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