Barcelona, Spain – Chelsea defied its Champions League odds at Camp Nou on Tuesday after a 2-2 draw with reigning champion Barcelona saw the Blues advance to the final of the competition for the second time in club history.
The Blues fancied their chances to reach the final after a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in the opening leg, but they hit a major bump in the road at the start of the return match after Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta put the Catalans in front.
Chelsea, despite playing much of the match down a man following the sending off of John Terry, responded admirably by grabbing a late first-half goal from Ramires and a second-half stoppage time goal from Fernando Torres to seal the trip to Munich.
Barcelona dictated much of the play in the opening period, and while the visitors remained contempt to sit back, the Catalans eventually produced the opening goal of the affair 10 minutes before the halftime break.
Busquets took advantage of some slack defending at the back post to level the aggregate score in the 35th minute. The Spaniard occupied acres of space in the box and calmly tucked a centering pass into the empty net after Ashley Cole failed to track back.
The Blues were reduced to 10 men two minutes later after a moment of madness from their captain. Terry appeared to lodge his knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez's leg in an off-the-ball scuffle. Barcelona's Chilean winger immediately hit the deck and made the most of the contact by rolling around on the ground. The linesman saw the infraction and notified the referee, who carried out Terry's ejection by brandishing a red card.
Barcelona grabbed the go-ahead goal nine minutes later as Iniesta latched on to a through ball from Messi and calmly slotted a shot past Petr Cech.
It appeared that the Spaniard's strike would be the final meaningful piece of action before halftime, but Chelsea was able to pull one back when Frank Lampard split the Barcelona defense to find a surging Ramires. The Brazilian got through on goal, drew Victor Valdes off his line and chipped a lovely effort over the 'keeper to equalize on aggregate and silence the Camp Nou crowd.
The intense action immediately picked up after the break with a dubious penalty decision awarded to Barcelona in the 48th minute. Cesc Fabregas went down off of minimal contact from Didier Drogba's sliding challenge in the box. Messi stepped up to take the ensuing kick but rattled the crossbar against the odds, keeping the aggregate score level at two goals apiece.
Barcelona's vast possession throughout the second half was all for naught as Chelsea defended as a unit, denying the home side a clear-cut scoring chance.
The Blues ultimately took advantage of Barcelona's forward-thinking mentality as Torres got on the end of a long ball to go one-on-one with Valdes late in the game. The Spanish striker went right around his compatriot and slid the insurance goal into the empty net to cap a magical night for Chelsea in one of world soccer's greatest cathedrals.
Chelsea, under the guidance of caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, has not reached the final since 2008. The club, led by another caretaker boss at the time in Avram Grant, lost to Manchester United on penalty kicks that occasion.
The Blues will have the opportunity to hoist the prestigious trophy for the first time when it meets the winner of the other semifinal tie - Bayern Munich leads Real Madrid, 2-1, on aggregate - at the Allianz Arena on May 19.