Chelsea will face Manchester United on 21st May
Last updated: 30th April 2008
Chelsea will face Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final after a 3-2 extra-time victory over Liverpool in a thriller at Stamford Bridge.
A brace from Didier Drogba and a penalty from Frank Lamprad ensured that strikes from Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel proved to be nothing but consolations for the Reds.
Chelsea looked bright from the off and tested Pepe Reina with long-range efforts throughout the first-half.
Liverpool on the other hand appeared to lack ideas and found it difficult to bring talismanic front man Torres into the game.
The hosts looked the most likely to find a breakthrough, and duly obliged on 33 minutes when Drogba rifled home.
Salomon Kalou broke clear on the right, although he appeared to be offside, and when his curling effort could only be parried by Reina, Drogba was on hand to rifle home the rebound from a tight angle.
After dominating large periods of the first-half, Chelsea allowed Liverpool back into the game during the second period and were made to pay when Fernando Torres levelled things up on 69 minutes.
Yossi Benayoun was able to break through a couple of challenges as he snaked in field and laid a perfectly weighted ball into the path of the Spanish striker to stroke calmly into the corner.
Neither side could produce a second during normal time, despite numerous opportunities at both ends.
It took just five minutes of extra-time for the game to spring back to life.
Michael Essien thought he had restored Chelsea's lead after taking advantage of some shaky Liverpool defending to blast home. However, he was denied by a linesman's flag.
Four minutes later though the Blues had the lead when Lampard coolly dispatched a penalty after Michael Ballack had been felled by Sami Hyypia.
After appearing to be sailing safely into the final, they were made to sweat when Babel rocketed a 30-yard effort past Cech, but Avram Grant's men eventually managed to hang on.
The slippery conditions hampered both sides but it was Chelsea who mastered them quicker.
Liverpool struggled to keep pace with the home side and their worries increased when Martin Skrtel was forced off with a knee injury in the 21st minute and was replaced by Sami Hyypia.
Reina was forced to punch clear a long-range effort from Ballack but the goal Chelsea had threatened for most of the half arrived in style in the 33rd minute.
The architect, as so often this season, was England midfielder Lampard.
He cleverly split the Liverpool defence to give Kalou the chance to run on and fire a shot that Reina could only palm into the path of the onrushing Drogba.
The Ivorian does not miss such gifts and he sent a low drive fizzing into the net at the near post to give Liverpool a 2-1 aggregate lead.
The Chelsea striker, clearly hurt by Benitez's criticism of his 'diving', then ran the length of the half to celebrate his goal in front of the Liverpool manager.
Chelsea's domination almost brought them a second four minutes before the interval but Ballack's measured free-kick veered just the wrong side of an upright.
Dirk Kuyt almost hauled Liverpool back into the tie three minutes after the restart but his shot met the outstretched leg of Cech before Ashley Cole cleared.
After Lampard's 53rd-minute volley was well held by Reina, Liverpool finally broke their goalscoring hoodoo when Benayoun carved out a chance for Torres.
The Spaniard collected the ball in his stride just inside the penalty area before sliding it beyond the exposed Cech to make it 2-2 on aggregate - the 64th-minute effort was Chelsea's first at Stamford Bridge in nine games under Benitez.
Liverpool were now unrecognisable from the insipid team of the first-half.
They were pulling Chelsea apart in midfield and the home side were looking decidedly nervy for the first time in the game.
Both sides sought a winner, but the 90 minutes ended all-square and the contest went into extra-time.
Liverpool almost snatched the lead within minutes of the restart but Hyypia's header fell wide of the post with Cech beaten.
Chelsea then thought they had done enough when Essien sent a 20-yard effort into the net, but it was rightly disallowed for offside.
However, in the 98th minute, Ballack was brought down by Hyypia inside the box and referee Roberto Rosetti pointed to the spot.
Lampard kept his composure to send Reina the wrong way and was in tears as he celebrated with his team-mates.
Worse was to come for Liverpool when substitute Nicolas Anelka got free on the right and pulled the ball back for Drogba to fire under Reina.
An error from Cech gifted Babel a late goal but Chelsea held on to reach their first UEFA Champions League final.
Chelsea Team Statistics Liverpool
3 Goals 2
1 1st Half Goals 0
11 Shots on Target 5
5 Shots off Target 4
3 Blocked Shots 6
5 Corners 9
20 Fouls 19
8 Offsides 4
0 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
72.6 Passing Success 75.5
21 Tackles 32
76.2 Tackles Success 75
44.8 Possession 55.2
52 Territorial Advantage 48