Ivanovic's goal pushes Chelsea through

March 14, 2012

Chelsea overturned a two-goal deficit from the first leg against Napoli to power into the Champions League quarterfinals, winning a thrilling match 4-1 after extra time on Wednesday to maintain England's interest in the competition.

Serbia defender Branislav Ivanovic completed a dramatic turnaround at Stamford Bridge with a 105th-minute winner in an end-to-end second leg, sealing a 5-4 aggregate victory over the Italian side.

''This is one of the very best nights for us,'' Chelsea captain John Terry said. ''We showed what Chelsea are all about.''

Fine headers by Didier Drogba and Terry wiped out Napoli's 3-1 lead from the first leg by the 48th minute, before Gokhan Inler put the Champions League debutants back in front on aggregate in the 55th.


Frank Lampard, another of Chelsea's much-vaunted old guard, sent the game into extra time by leveling at 4-4 with a 75th-minute penalty earned by Ivanovic. The Serb defender went on to seal victory from Drogba's cut-back with a finish that the irrepressible striker would have been proud of.

Chelsea is the only English team to qualify for the last eight, with the two Manchester clubs crashing out in the group stage and Arsenal eliminated in the last 16 last week.

Chelsea is also the first team in eight years to advance in the Champions League after a first-leg loss by a margin of at least two goals.

''We made history and knew that it would take a lot to win,'' said interim coach Roberto Di Matteo, who has rejuvenated Chelsea with three straight wins since taking over from the fired Andre Villas-Boas late last month.

''Some of the players couldn't even run at the end because they had cramp, but they just kept fighting. Everybody was incredible.''

Arsenal had given Italy a warning of English teams' powers of recovery last week, beating AC Milan 3-0 to nearly overturn a four-goal deficit from the first leg.

Chelsea succeeded where its London rival had narrowly failed, reaching the last eight for the seventh time in the past nine years.

Few were giving the hosts a chance after their limp performance in Naples three weeks ago - one of Villas-Boas' last games in charge - when they were ripped apart by Napoli's three-pronged strikeforce of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik.

The deadly trio, who have helped revive the glory days at the club more than 20 years after the Diego Maradona era, were at it again in the early stages at Stamford Bridge by troubling goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Drogba, fresh from scoring his 100th Premier League goal at the weekend, soon breathed fresh life into the match when the Ivory Coast international met Ramires' cross with a firm header in the 29th.

Napoli's previously raucous fans were further quietened three minutes after the break when Lampard's corner to the near post found Terry, whose glancing header found the far corner.

At that stage, Chelsea was not just in control of the match - it was also ahead on aggregate due to its away goal at San Paolo stadium.

Inler put Napoli back in front overall in the 55th when he chested down Terry's headed clearance on the edge of the area and smashed a sweet half-volley that flew into the bottom corner.

Lampard took the game into extra time by converting a fiercely struck penalty 15 minutes from time after Ivanovic's header hit the raised hand of Andrea Dossena.

Fernando Torres, on as a 63rd-minute substitute and desperate to end a goal drought stretching back 25 matches, missed an open goal from an acute angle in the 100th - but Ivanovic made no mistake five minutes later.