Liverpool's dream of going to the European Champions League Final against Manchester United ended on the field at Stamford Bridge in London last night, as Chelsea won the second leg of the semifinal with a thrilling 3-2 win.
The match ended with a 1-1 tie, but since the first leg also ended with the same score, the match continued into extra time. Chelsea had a goal called back because they were offsides early in the extra session, but won a penalty kick moments later and Frank Lampard shot it home to put Chelsea on top.
They added another goal to make it 3-1 from Didier Drogba, his second of the contest. It looked like it was all over, but Liverpool wouldn't go quietly into the night. With three minutes to play, Ryan Babel hit a screaming drive that goaltender Petr Chec couldn't catch up with, and Liverpool still had life. As the Merseyside faithful was dreaming of a comeback like three years ago in the final at Istanbul (and I couldn't help but think of the 2004 Red Sox again), time ran out on them and Chelsea earned their first berth ever in a European Championship final.
It was Liverpool's first semifinal loss in European club competition since 1965. It was a good run for the Reds, but it could have been very different. The own goal that John Arne Riise put in in injury time in the first leg at Liverpool cost the club dearly, as had the second match remained at 1-1, Liverpool would be facing United at Moscow next month for the title. So Riise wears the goat horns, and I bet the Liverpool fans won't soon let him forget it.
Makes me think of a certain first baseman who played for the Red Sox many years ago. You know, the guy who wore number 6...