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Rediff.com  » Sports » Last-gasp Iniesta strike puts Barcelona in final

Last-gasp Iniesta strike puts Barcelona in final

Last updated on: May 07, 2009 11:43 IST

Barcelona snatched a place in the Champions League final in dramatic fashion on Wednesday when a last-gasp goal from Andres Iniesta earned them a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and victory on away goals.

Barcelona will play holders Manchester United in the Rome final on May 27 after a stunning reversal of fortunes at the very end of the semi-final second leg.

Chelsea had been on their way to a second successive final against United thanks to a brilliant volley from Michael Essien in the ninth minute.

Barcelona had created few clear chances but they broke Chelsea hearts when Iniesta clattered in a shot from the edge of the box in the third minute of stoppage time.

Barcelona's Eric Abidal, who was sent off in the second half, will miss the final, as will Daniel Alves, who was booked on his birthday and will also be suspended.

However skipper Carles Puyol, who was suspended for this game, will be eligible for the final when United, who beat Chelsea in last year's final, will bid to become the first team in the Champions League era to retain the European Cup.

CHELSEA COMPLAINTS

Chelsea's players harangued Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after the dramatic finale and Didier Drogba earned himself a booking after the final whistle.

The referee had turned down a number of penalty appeals from Chelsea but it seemed that his leniency was not going to trouble them as the match moved into stoppage time.

However Iniesta scored with Barcelona's first shot on target, one the underworked Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech could do little about.

Barcelona had plenty of possession throughout the opening half but produced very little in front of goal and rarely looked like adding to the almost-150 goals they have scored in all competitions this season.

Chelsea were far more dangerous on the counter-attack, and created most of what chances there were even after Essien's stunning goal.

That came about against the run of the early play when a shot from Frank Lampard hit Yaya Toure and fell for Essien to smash it in first time with his left foot from 22 metres.

For most of the first half Barcelona's attacks largely fizzled out with Lionel Messi virtually a spectator on the right wing.

In the one opportunity he had to cross after leaving Ashley Cole trailing in his wake, he passed harmlessly into the hands of the keeper.

Barcelona looked to be down and out when Abidal was sent off in the 65th minute after appearing to trip Nicolas Anelka as the Frenchman chased down a flick-on from Drogba.

Somehow though, they survived and the prospect of the first repeat final in the 54-year history of the European Cup failed to come to fruition.

Source:
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