Fleet Street's view
Few journalists get the privilege to report on a sporting contest as epic and engrossing as Chelsea's memorable night in Barcelona, with all present at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening privy to a game that will live long in the memory. Here's what Fleet Street's finest had to say.
Last Updated: 25/04/12 10:40am
A night of unprecedented drama in Barcelona had journalists up and down the country cowering under their desks, as 'rewrite' became the buzzword no hack wants to hear. From Sergio Busquets' opener for Barcelona to Fernando Torres' late show via John Terry's inexplicable moment of madness, it was 90 minutes that have rarely, if ever, been bettered in UEFA Champions League history. Many of this morning's back pages and write-ups, largely presumably due to print restrictions, seem to focus on Terry's misdemeanour but it's also fair to say the magnitude of Chelsea's achievement has not been underestimated.
'The captain got sent off. The other centre half lasted 12 minutes. Just about everybody who could not afford to get booked got booked. Jose Bosingwa played centre half for 64 minutes. In the Nou Camp. Against Lionel Messi and the best team in the world - a team who have now scored 104 goals at home this season. And they have, remember, no permanent manager.
'Yet somehow, against all the odds, logic, expectation, the formbook, the coaching manuals and every credible assessment of how to run a football club (continuity, long-term planning) or win a football match at the Nou Camp (keep 10 men on the field, don't let Barcelona score two goals before half-time or give away a penalty), Chelsea have made it to the Champions League final.
'They get there on one leg, missing John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles - and hoping against hope that Gary Cahill and David Luiz return from injury - but do not bet against them in whatever circumstance. Never bet against them after this' - Martin Samuel
'A needless, senseless capacity for self-destruction has been a recurring theme throughout John Terry's turbulent career, but rarely on the pitch.
'The Chelsea captain has endured enough scrapes and scandals to keep several ailing newspapers afloat singlehandedly, although at work he has generally exuded an air of calm.
'Terry's lengthy rap sheet reads like an A to Z of the possible misdemeanours of the serially stupid, but last night's error of judgment may hurt him more than the all the others because he has been denied an opportunity he has craved more than any other. While Barcelona are unlikely to agree, natural justice has prevailed.
'The upshot of Chelsea's remarkable defensive triumph is that the only person to suffer as a result of Terry's indiscipline will be the player himself when he is forced to sit out the final next month through suspension. With a rebuilding operation due at Stamford Bridge in the summer and no guarantee that Chelsea will take part in next season's Champions League, the thought will have occurred that he may never lift the trophy he covets the most' - Matt Hughes
'It is hard to guess why he snapped and kneed Sanchez hard off the ball. It is hard to imagine why it was then, not even half way through one of the most important matches of his career, that madness enveloped him. It is so baffling, so inexplicable, because Terry has charted his way through the chaos buffeting his career this season with a strange stoicism. Hurl controversy or derision or disgust towards him and he has sailed on unabashed and apparently untroubled.
'He has been accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and he has lost the England captaincy and yet still he has refused to fold. More pertinently, he has never bowed to provocation on the pitch. When he has been baited by opponents or ridiculed by fans, he has refused to react. He has kept his head when others would have surrendered to angst or anger or wounded pride. But here, suddenly and catastrophically, something finally broke inside him' - Oliver Holt
'Chelsea's progress to Munich feels staggering enough before it is even acknowledged that they performed here for 53 minutes against the best attacking team in the world without a first‑choice centre‑half and with Terry absent and in disgrace. He had appeared to transform mission improbable into mission impossible by losing his head in the midst of a frantic ten-minute period just before the interval.
'Play had been meandering away towards the flank when Terry, mystifyingly, kneed Alexis Sánchez in the back. The reaction was theatrical - perhaps no more so than some of Didier Drogba's back at Stamford Bridge - but the offence was clear enough. Whether there had been provocation in the buildup felt moot. This was an 85th Champions League appearance for the centre-half, yet his reaction smacked only of naivety' - Dominic Fifield
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
'Everyone knew Barcelona would dominate - after all they have done in their previous 243 matches stretching over four years - and Chelsea were sure to let them have the ball again. They had little choice.
'And yet there was also a strange, incredible vulnerability - summed up by the pre-match mood and also the nature of Ramires' finely taken, but poorly conceded first goal, as well as Fernando Torres' late second, Lionel Messi's out-of-sorts penalty miss and performance then Cesc Fabregas's frustration with Frank Lampard.
'Messi was also booked as it all turned rather strange and Barcelona simply struggled. For all the intricacy of Barcelona's play, the pattern isn't quite right at present. It is still beautiful but imperfect. Maybe it is simply a matter of re-calibration, such are the fine margins within which they work, but it's a little askew' - Jason Burt
'Chelsea, quite simply, found such a greatness of will that you could spend a lifetime of watching football without the privilege of anything to compare with it.
'First they scored a goal that would have been stunning for its poise and its beauty in any circumstances. That it should come after the Terry atrocity and dismissal was sandwiched by moments of killing brilliance from Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, which swept away the desperately won advantage at Stamford Bridge, only added to the wonder and the disbelief.
'Frank Lampard, as he did in the home leg, delivered the swift pass and Ramires, a player of speed and unrelenting good-heartedness, produced the most convincing evidence yet seen that his origins are indeed in the football of Brazil. He sent the ball over the head of Victor Valdes with a finesse that would have been claimed happily by any of the great figures from the land of the beautiful game.
'That Ramires should miss the final, along with several colleagues, for the softest of yellow cards, is a different kind of sporting tragedy to the one that consumed Terry, but it was surely no less profound' - James Lawton