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Torres has last word as Blues reach final frontier

What a night. What a display of defiance from Chelsea. To the delight of their fans up in the gods, 10 men went to mow a meadow, and thrillingly, amazingly, they cut Barcelona down to size.

This really was a night for a Chelsea knees-up. John Terry was deservedly dismissed after 37 minutes for deliberately, cynically raising his knee into Alexis Sanchez.

In Moscow, Terry lost his footing; here he lost his marbles. Depleted in numbers, Chelsea were never drained in spirit. Petr Cech was magnificent, making some crucial saves. Ramires was similarly immense, defending and attacking, even scoring, even making light of a booking that precludes his presence in the Munich final.

Ramires' contribution echoed that of Roy Keane in Turin in 1999 or Michael Ballack in Seoul in 2002; putting personal heartache to one side to help drive their team to the final. Didier Drogba was also terrific. Fernando Torres, so derided by so many, came on and scored. Heaven knows who Roberto di Matteo will pick in Munich. Joining Terry and Ramires in the banned stand are Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles after this incredibly eventful evening.

This was an extraordinary match with the first half seeing three goals going in and three centre-halves going off, the injured pair of Gary Cahill and Gerard Pique and then the foolish figure of Terry.

Chelsea had actually started with a high tempo, looking to pressure Barcelona into an early mistake, seeking to punch holes in a back-three of Javier Mascherano, Pique and Carles Puyol.

That lasted for a minute. Catalan waves started rolling across Chelsea's half. Barcelona got the ball, and suddenly Lionel Messi was away, two touches guiding the ball down the inside-right channel but his finish was wide as Cahill slid in.

Then Sanchez came calling, dribbling into the box, his movement causing Cahill to stretch and injure himself.

He lay there, earning catcalls from the home fans who thought he was time-wasting.

Eventually, following treatment, the England centre-half briefly continued until hobbling away, his frustration seen in the way he brushed past Di Matteo. Jose Bosingwa's arrival meant Branislav Ivanovic moving across to partner Terry, who was organising the resistance movement, clearing from young Isaac Cuenca.

Chelsea broke out on occasion, lifting the siege briefly, giving their hard-pressed defenders a few precious moments to catch their breath. When goalkeeper Victor Valdes raced out to punch a long ball clear, he clattered Pique, whose head struck the ground. He was out cold, clearly concussed.

When Pique came round a minute later, Barcelona surprisingly decided he should continue. Crazy really. One moment, Pique's head was rocking back in sickening fashion, the next he was returning to the fray -- for 10 minutes anyway until sanity prevailed.

The pressure on Chelsea intensified. The Nou Camp bayed for Frank Lampard to be booked. Messi had a shot saved. Andres Iniesta's follow-up was blocked by Terry. Then Cesc Fabregas hit the side-netting. Danger rose from every quarter.

Chelsea broke out, Drogba hooking a shot over and then dribbling in from the left past a labouring Pique. The former Manchester United defender was clearly still dazed and departed, replaced by Dani Alves.

Then came those 10 mad minutes, Barcelona first digging up a jewel from the wreckage of a corner. When Drogba headed out, Chelsea stayed deep, allowing Barcelona space to build again. Alves slipped the ball left to Cuenca, who crossed low and accurately to Sergio Busquets. The finish was neat, left-footed from 10 yards and the Nou Camp erupted.

A goal down on the night, Chelsea were soon a man down. Terry let his team down. No question. It was a cynical attempt to harm an opponent off the ball, an act of folly with an official behind the goal and an assistant referees on the touchline.

As Terry deliberately kneed Sanchez in the back, as the Chilean fell to earth, the assistant referee signalled the offence to Cuneyt Cakir, who immediately reached for the red card.

As Terry made the walk of woe, Chelsea's remodelled back-four was Ramires-Ivanovic-Bosingwa-Cole and it was soon breached. Messi was the catalyst, gliding forward, sliding the ball to Iniesta, who finished unerringly. This looked Mission Impossible. Yet Chelsea stood firm, breaking out and scoring a magnificent goal just before the break.

Lampard made it, releasing Ramires, who galloped down the inside-right channel, showing all that famous stamina and then finishing like the Brazilian he is, the ball chipped elegantly over Valdes.

Amazingly, the 10 men of Chelsea were leading on away goals. Within three minutes of the restart, Barcelona should have made it 3-1. Drogba challenged Fabregas, who went down, looking up to the referee for a penalty. Cakir obliged, pointing to the spot and Messi stepped up. Surely he would inflict pain on the visitors. The Argentinian has looked mortal in recent games and he missed, driving the ball against the bar.

The game briefly became fractious. Messi pushed Lampard. Cech was booked for time-wasting. Then Cech saved from Cuenca.

At times, Barcelona's formation seemed almost 1-9 with Mascherano deep and the rest hammering against Chelsea's back-door. Frustration seeped into Barcelona veins. Messi was booked for pulling Lampard back. The England man then clattered Fabregas, a reminder of old enmities. Barring such moments of indiscipline, Chelsea were defending defiantly. It was impossible not to admire their resilience. John Obi Mikel blocked Iniesta's shot. And again.

Lampard nicked the ball off Messi's twinkling toes. Busquets spooned a shot over.

The crowd sought to lift their players with cries of "Barca, Barca." Tello tried to insinuate his way in from the left but the substitute, Salomon Kalou, saw off the danger.

Drogba went off after 80 minutes, replaced by Fernando Torres, whose first position on the pitch was covering left-back.

Cech then somehow tipped a Messi shot on to the post. Chelsea's 'keeper was superb, pushing away a Mascherano strike. And then Torres ran free, rounding Valdes and scoring.

What a night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent