Ronaldinho snuffs out Chelsea bid
BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) -- A magical goal from Ronaldinho helped Barcelona draw 1-1 with Chelsea on Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals and avenge their elimination a year ago.
The World and European Player of the Year lived up to his billing when he bamboozled three defenders on the edge of the area and fired past keeper Petr Cech 12 minutes from time.
Chelsea were given brief hope of a dramatic comeback when Frank Lampard converted an injury-time penalty, but went out 3-2 on aggregate.
Barca, who were knocked out by Chelsea over two acrimonious legs at the same stage last season, were in charge throughout as they deprived their opponents of the ball and gave Jose Mourinho's side a masterclass in possession football.
There were few of the fireworks, however, which might have been expected given the controversies that had characterised the previous three meetings between the two sides over the past year.
Instead, this was a slow-burning tactical game and although the tension was still high, Chelsea went out with a whimper rather than a bang, in a disappointing performance for a side that has yet to live up to expectations in Europe.
For Barca the win put them into the last eight for the first time since 2003 and their performance will give them real hope that they can finally win a second European Cup.
Mourinho remained defiant in defeat, saying: "We played them in four matches in two seasons and when we were 11 against 11 they never beat us, that's the reality.
"Knockout is about two ties and we lost the first 2-1 in circumstances (that were at the) minimum, strange," he told Sky Sports.
Mourinho was referring to the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago when Chelsea had defender Asier del Horno sent off for a foul on Lionel Messi with more than 50 minutes remaining, a decision the Portuguese coach criticized.
Messi showed brief glimpses of his quicksilver ball skills when he made several darting runs towards the Chelsea area, but center-backs Terry and Ricardo Carvalho stood firm against the Argentine youngster.
Didier Drogba managed to test Barca keeper Victor Valdes from a set piece when he got his head to a Lampard free kick in the 18th minute, but the Londoners were otherwise forced to live off scraps of possession.
Barca suffered an unexpected setback midway through the half when Messi was forced to leave the pitch after straining a muscle.
The Catalans made light of the blow, however, and remained in the driving seat as Henrik Larsson slotted into the three-man attack.
Mourinho's men appeared in no hurry to try and turn the score around and it was not until early in the second half that the Portuguese coach finally showed his hand when he threw on Hernan Crespo and Eidur Gudjohnsen in place of Drogba and Damien Duff.
Mutual respect: Lampard, left, and Ronaldinho at the final whistle
The gamble almost paid off a few minutes later when Crespo fired wide of the near post after the lively Joe Cole had swept in a cross from the right, but it was Barca who stepped up a gear and took the lead.
Ronaldinho picked up the ball just outside the area, burst his way past a bemused Carvalho and Terry and then fired low past Cech to bring the stadium to its feet.
Chelsea's equalizer came when Lampard slammed home from the penalty spot after Giovanni van Bronckhorst was judged to have brought Terry down in stoppage time.
Striker Samuel Eto'o had almost added to Barca's tally when he hit the far post with an angled shot in the dying minutes.
The only stain on Barca's victory was when skipper Carles Puyol picked up a booking that will see him miss the first leg of the quarterfinal for an unnecessary foul on Gudjohnsen.
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