Avram Grant may have finally moved out of the shadow of Jose Mourinho after he guided Chelsea to their first European Cup final with a 3-2 victory over Liverpool in extra time of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
|Frank Lampard ends a difficult week |
with triumph [GALLO/GETTY]
The Blues will now face Manchester United after their 4-3 aggregate win sent them to the final on May 21 in Moscow.
After the teams were locked at 1-1 after all 90 minutes, Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard scored from the penalty spot in the 98th minute and Didier Drogba added his second goal of the night in the 105th.
"What a character Lamps is to come in on Sunday and train and try and block out what has been a terrible week for him and his family and everyone close to Frank,'' Chelsea captain John Terry said.
"I'm sure Frank will dedicate the goal to his mum tonight.''
Lampard beat Pepe Reina with his penalty in the 98th minute after Sami Hyypia had brought down Michael Ballack in the area.
The Chelsea midfielder paid tribute to his mother, who died during the week, in his goal celebration.
After embraces from his teammates, Lampard ran back to the center circle and pointed to his father in the crowd.
Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel scored for five-time champion Liverpool, which lost to AC Milan in the Champions League final last year.
"I thought we were very close. We played well in the second half, but the third goal killed it,'' Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said.
"We had control of the game. We had two chances in extra time and we were in control and we were preventing them from creating.''
All English affair
It's the first all-English final in the Champions League, and it will feature the two clubs also fighting for the English Premier League title.
Both teams have 81 points, but United leads on goal difference with two games remaining.
Lampard's penalty came only three minutes after Chelsea thought that Michael Essien had scored.
But the goal was called back for offside, after the stadium scoreboard had given the goal to Chelsea and Uefa had changed the score on its website.
Chelsea, which hasn't lost in 12 straight home games in the Champions League, was playing in the tournament's semifinals for the fourth time in five years.
The Blues had twice lost to Liverpool and once to Monaco.
Although Mourinho never got past the semifinals with Chelsea, the Portuguese coach led FC Porto to the Champions League title in 2004.
The victory also stretched Chelsea's undefeated run at Stamford Bridge to 82 matches.
|Will Rafael Benitez survive the summer |
as Liverpool manager? [GALLO/GETTY]
United, which beat FC Barcelona 1-0 Tuesday to advance to the final, has won the European Cup twice, in 1968 and 1999.
Chelsea's only European success was in the Cup Winners' Cup, which it won in 1971 and 1998.
Drogba scored the game's first goal in the 33rd in grand style by smashing in a rebound after Salomon Kalou's initial shot was parried by Reina.
Drogba responds to Benitez jibes
It was a fine response to Liverpool coach Benitez who had accused Drogba of being a diver before the match.
"Benitez is a fantastic coach and I was a bit disappointed but I think he felt his team was not strong enough and Chelsea were going to beat them,'' Drogba said.
"I am just happy for my team and I don't want to think about others.
"It's not good for my image. I'm giving my best to put my team at the top and I think it's not fair but it's finished.''
Torres equalised in the 64th, slotting past Petr Cech after a pass from Yossi Benayoun.
After Lampard's penalty, Drogba added another by scoring off a cross from Nicolas Anelka, who had replaced midfielder Joe Cole at the beginning of extra time.
Babel scored the final goal in the 117th with a shot that slipped through the fingers of Cech to set up a few frantic final minutes but in the end it was to be Chelsea's night as their once maligned manager remains in the hunt for two major trophies this season.