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Barcelona held by Chelsea at home


Barcelona : Chelsea were pleased to battle out a 0-0 draw away to Barcelona, in a tight and tactical Champions League semi-final first leg match.

Few teams have managed to control the brilliant Barcelona attack this season, but Chelsea did so thanks to some indefatigable defensive work – and thanks to Barca’s stars having an uninspired Tuesday night.

Lionel Messi never managed to escape from the clutches of stand-in Chelsea left-back Jose Bosingwa, Samuel Eto’o was well controlled by John Terry and Alex, Branislav Ivanov kept a sharp eye on Thierry Henry and Jon Obi Mikel rarely let Xavi breath.

As expected, Barca dominated possession from start to finish. However – with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta having a bad night – they lacked the final pass to break down a well-drilled Chelsea defence.

Therefore, the hosts were obliged to try their luck with speculative long shots, none of which troubled Peter Cech.

Cech did well to save a near-post Henry drive in the 34th minute.

The clearest chance in a colourless first half fell to Didier Drogba in the 39th minute, after a miscued back-pass from Rafa Marquez. The Cameroonian hitman was bravely foiled by Barca keeper Victor Valdes.

The second half started badly for Barca, when Marquez twisted his left knee and was stretchered off. The Mexican defender seems to have damaged the external cartilage in his knee – and could be out for the rest of the season.

Another blow for the hosts was the yellow card picked up Carles Puyol, who came on for Marquez, a card which will keep him out of the second leg.

In the 69th minute Eto’o came close to breaking the deadlock, but was foiled by Cech after a powerful surge.

Barca coach Josep Guardiola then surprisingly took Eto’o off, to the relief of the Chelsea defence.

Barca came forward defiantly at the end, but substitutes Bojan Krkic and Aliaksandr Hleb were unable to beat Cech.