Chelsea defeats Napoli 4-1, advancing to Champions League quarterfinals
Wednesday’s second leg round of 16 clash with Napoli at Stamford Bridge was hands down Chelsea’s biggest win of the season. It was a crackling night of classic and dramatic Champions League action that saw Chelsea overcome a 3-1 aggregate deficit by netting four goals. The game was thrillingly suspenseful for 120 minutes, having been forced into extra time since the aggregate score was 4-4 at the end of regulation. In the 104th minute, Ivanovic scored the winning goal for Chelsea in the kind of triumphant moment reminiscent of the Blues’ better days from the past several years. It was the kind of moment that makes soccer fans swoon, the kind that have been unfortunately few and far between for Chelsea supporters this season.
Particularly gratifying in this match were the unified heart and fighting spirit the team demonstrated throughout. It was the kind of will to win that has been oddly absent for much of this campaign. The fact that three of Chelsea’s four goals were scored by Chelsea’s “old guard” (Drogba, Terry, and Lampard respectively) was also quite gratifying. Their goals and leadership were emphatic parries to critics’ jabs this season that Chelsea would be better off without these “geezers”. What is remarkable about this rampant critical ageism is the double standard demonstrated by the rave reviews heaped on Manchester United’s own geezers Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Wednesday night’s performance proved that Drogba, Terry, and Lampard are not done yet!
The victory over Napoli keeps hope alive that perhaps something magical can be salvaged from this otherwise dreary season for the Blues. Today’s Champions League draw determined that Chelsea will now travel to Benfica for the first quarterfinal leg on March 27th. Here’s hoping that Chelsea’s recent recovery blossoms into a resurgence that will propel them all the way to the final in Munich!
How will Chelsea fare against Benfica in the quarterfinals?