Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Champions League: Chelsea win 1-0 at Benfica

Chelsea will take a 1-0 lead home for the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals against Benfica after Salomon Kalou's second-half goal gave his team its first away win in the competition this season.

Kalou tapped in Fernando Torres' cross from the right in the 75th minute of the first leg to give Chelsea the advantage ahead of the Stamford Bridge match on April 4.

The lone English club left in the tournament managed only half the number of Benfica's 22 attempts on goal at the Stadium of Light, and it scored against the run of play.

Chelsea was coming off a 2-1 loss at Manchester City last week and a 0-0 home draw with Tottenham, and the team defended well but created few chances in Lisbon other than Juan Mata hitting the post from a wide angle in the 61st after a defensive blunder.

"We were solid defensively and well-organized against a good team," Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "We haven't qualified yet. It's dangerous to think we're through ... We've put ourselves in a good position, but it's not a result you can rely on for the home game."Ramires, a former Benfica player, kept outpacing left back Emerson, but Torres -- who recently ended a career-worst goal drought of 26 games -- couldn't convert the possession he received into clear chances.

Midfielder Raul Meireles' low drive just before the interval forced goalkeeper Artur to dive sharply to his right in Chelsea's best first-half effort.

Benfica cranked up the pressure after the break. Cardozo's close-range shot looked to be going in but it hit Luiz on the chest, and Jardel's header forced a reflex save from Cech.

Chelsea captain John Terry was repeatedly called into action, blocking Alex Witsel's shot then cutting out Rodrigo's pass to Cardozo that would have put him through on Cech. Lampard came on for Meireles, but Chelsea still looked the less likely victor.

But when Torres beat Jardel on the right flank, Kalou just needed to side-foot the ball into the net for the winner.

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