Barcelona will face Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals after two contrasting last-eight encounters on Tuesday, the Spanish Liga leaders contesting a low-key 1-1 stalemate with Bayern Munich in Germany while Guus Hiddink's side found themselves engaged in pulsating 4-4 draw at home against Liverpool.
Qualification was practically assured for Barça in the wake of their 4-0 home success last week, but Chelsea's 3-1 victory at Anfield by no means booked them a straightforward second leg. Liverpool made them tremble right up until the end before last season's runners-up ultimately emerged victorious from a tie that yielded 12 goals over two games.
Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (7-5 on aggregate)
Goals: Didier Drogba 51, Alex Costa 57, Frank Lampard 76, 89 (Chelsea); Fabio Aurelio 19, Xabi Alonso 28 pen., Lucas Leiva 81, Dirk Kuyt 83 (Liverpool)
Despite missing influential captain Steven Gerrard due to a groin injury, Liverpool left the competition with their heads held high after long making their hosts doubt their continued involvement. The Merseysiders took an early two-goal lead courtesy of a pair of free-kicks, the second prompting a penalty, but their need to notch a third left them vulnerable at the back and they conceded three times in the space of 15 second-half minutes, Hiddink having set his charges straight during the break.
If the supporters thought the match was over, they were soon proved wrong. The visitors plundered a couple of quick-fire strikes through Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt towards the end as their opponents took their foot off the pedal, but Frank Lampard then had the last word, the Blues' captain grabbing his second to bring this extraordinary encounter to a close.
The key player
Didier Drogba set Chelsea back on track when they needed it most, trailing 2-0 at the start of the second half and with all the momentum against them. The Ivorian put the Blues on the scoresheet by turning a Nicolas Anelka cross goalwards and forcing Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina to spill the ball into his own net, and he intervened with devastating effect later too, when he collected a superb ball from Michael Ballack and surged clear before setting up Lampard for the England midfielder's first.
The turning point
The face of this quarter-final changed completely following an error of judgement from Petr Cech in the 19th minute. With Liverpool awarded a free-kick 25 metres out on the right, players from both sides, including the Cezch goalkeeper, positioned themselves at the far post in anticipation of a ball lofted into the box. Spying a gap open up as a result, Brazilian left-back Fabio Aurelio instead drove the ball low inside the opposite post and beyond the despairing dive of Chelsea's No1. Suddenly, Liverpool were back in the tie.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Barcelona (1-5 on aggregate)
Goals: Franck Ribery 47 (Bayern); Seydou Keita 72 (Barcelona)
Better balanced in defence, Bayern put up far more effective resistance than in the opening leg, but they were unable to make their numerous chances count, with Luca Toni particularly profligate up front. The Bundesliga giants would have contented themselves with a pride-restoring win and looked poised to achieve just that when Franck Ribery finished after good work from Ze Roberto. Barça's thrilling one-touch football proved irresistible once again, though, and it fell to Seydou Keita to level the scores at the tail end of a match low on tension given the outcome in Catalonia last week.
The key player
The return of Brazilian stopper Lucio gave Bayern greater stability at the back, which they so desperately needed after shipping four goals in the first leg. Unfortunately for the locals in attendance, the German club's forwards were unable to take maximum advantage.
The turning point
Jurgen Klinsmann's men began the match on the front foot and created five clear-cut chances in the opening ten minutes without finding the back of the net. Unable to craft an early breakthrough, Bayern let slip their slim chance of overturning a heavy deficit.