Late goal sends Barcelona to Champions League final
Andres Iniesta's injury-time equalizer gave Barcelona a 1-1 draw against Chelsea in London on Wednesday and a spot in European soccer's Champions League final.
Chelsea led after Michael Essien's ninth-minute 20-yard drive and had a handful of penalty appeals turned down at Stamford Bridge against a Barcelona team that had defender Eric Abidal sent off in the 66th minute.
But Iniesta's marker, after a 0-0 draw in Spain last week, means that Barcelona goes through on away goals and will meet defending champion Manchester United in Rome on May 27.
"We fought. [Coach] Pep [Guardiola] rallied us well at halftime and we never gave up to the final whistle," Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o said. "This is from a season's worth of work."
In a stormy end to the second semifinal, Chelsea players surrounded Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, convinced he should have awarded them at least two penalties.
One was on a foul he gave outside the area instead of inside and another for a handball by Samuel Eto'o when he blocked a shot with his arm.
Chelsea forward Didier Drogba, who went down twice inside the area during the game, marched up to the official to complain and had to be pulled away by coach Guus Hiddink.
Chelsea played top-quality football and appeared on the way to a second Champions League final in a row against United after last season's loss in a penalty shootout in Moscow.
But then came Barcelona's late equalizer.
The game was deep into injury time when Iniesta collected a ball from Lionel Messi and drove the equalizer past Petr Cech to start celebrations on the Barcelona bench.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola raced down the touchline toward the club's fans to celebrate and it was several minutes before the game resumed.
"The game was very difficult, but we knew it would be," Eto'o said. "The most important thing was to keep our own style, wherever we play. Put us on any field and sometimes we can lose, but most of the time we win."
Barcelona will now send its star-filled lineup to face United in a final many neutral followers were longing for.
Barca will be chasing its third title after winning in 1992 and 2006. United, which won in '68, '99 and last season, is after its fourth.
Barcelona should have Thierry Henry back in the lineup after he was ruled out of this game.
The French star left the field with a knee injury despite scoring twice in the team's impressive 6-2 victory at Real Madrid on Saturday.
Although Henry trained at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, he didn't even make the bench for the game.
Fast pace to open match
The game started at an incredibly fast pace with Chelsea looking much more attack-minded than in last week's first leg at Camp Nou, and the home side went ahead in the ninth minute with a stunning strike by Essien.
Ashley Cole fed Frank Lampard, whose pass came off a Barcelona defender and came loose well outside the area.
Essien ran in and hit the ball with his left foot, the powerful 20-metre drive flashing past goalkeeper Victor Valdes and going off the underside of the bar.
As Chelsea kept up the pressure, Valdes prevented Barca from falling further behind when he raced off his line to beat Drogba to the ball.
The home side then appealed for a penalty when Florent Malouda was brought down by Daniel Alves a metre inside the area, but the referee ruled it had happened on the edge.
Drogba's firmly hit free kick from an acute angle was kept out by Valdes's left leg. From the ensuing corner, John Terry's header flew wide of the far post.
Alves was shown a yellow card for a series of fouls — his second of the competition, which rules him out of the final in Rome.
Drogba, who was having an outstanding game with surging runs and strong defensive headers, should have made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute when he collected a pass from Nicolas Anelka and turned past a defender, only for Valdes to block his shot with his leg.
Drogba was then frustrated when he went down under Barcelona challenges inside the area only to see the referee wave it off.
Messi had rarely threatened Chelsea by the 65th minute, when he weaved into a shooting position before firing too high. Barcelona's task became even harder when Abidal was harshly sent off in the 66th.
Anelka ran toward goal and tumbled to the turf just outside the area, and the referee sent the French fullback off for a professional foul even though he didn't appear to make contact with his countryman.
Chelsea defender Alex was showed a yellow card after tripping Messi just outside the area, but Alves's free kick cleared the crossbar.