Posted: Tuesday April 24, 2012 6:37 PM

Chelsea reaches Champions League final

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Chelsea eliminated defending champion Barcelona and reached the Champions League final with a grueling 2-2 tie Tuesday night, winning the semifinal on 3-2 aggregate despite playing most of the game a man short.

Seeking its first Champions League title, Chelsea advanced to the May 19 final at Munich. In the other semifinal, Real Madrid is home Wednesday trying to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Bayern Munich.

"We did it in a brilliant way. Defending well, and trying to score,'' said Didier Drogba, who gave away a penalty by tripping Cesc Fabregas inside the area. "I think we gave a lot to these games. Nobody expected us to be there (in the final), and we are.''

Barcelona trailed 1-0 from the first leg but took a 2-1 aggregate lead on goals by Sergio Busquets, his first in 1 1/2 years, and Andres Iniesta in the 44th.

Playing a man short after captain John Terry was given a red card in the 37th for fouling Alexis Sanchez, Chelsea rallied as Ramires scored on a lob over goalkeeper Victor Valdes in first-half injury time. That tied the aggregate and gave Chelsea the advantage on away goals.

"I feel as I let them down, I've apologized to them,'' said Terry, who will also be absent from the final. "Looking at the replay, it does look like a red card.''

Three-time FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi, who has 63 goals this season, had a chance to put Barcelona ahead after Drogba pulled down Fabregas. But Messi, who has never scored in seven games against Chelsea, sent a penalty kick off the crossbar in the 59th.

Barcelona, regarded as one of the best club teams ever, then piled on the pressure but couldn't get another goal despite 72 percent possession, a 22-7 advantage in shots and a 10-1 margin in corner kicks. Sanchez had a goal allowed for offside in the 82nd, Messi hit a post a minute later and Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech palmed a shot by Javier Mascherano in the 89th.

Chelsea substitute Fernando Torres sealed the win when he scored on a breakaway in the first minute of stoppage time.

"We knew this is how we had to play against Barcelona, even if sometimes it's not so attractive,'' said Torres, who replaced Drogba with 10 minutes left. "We used our strengths well and it worked for us in both games. They had their chances, but they didn't finish and Ramires' goal gave us life.''

Four Chelsea players will be suspended for the final: Terry for the red card, and Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires for accumulation of yellow cards. Chelsea lost the final to Manchester United on penalty kicks four years ago.

Barcelona, seeking to be the first repeat winner of the competition since AC Milan in 1989-90, was coming off a weekend loss to Real Madrid that just about ended its hopes to win a fourth straight Spanish league title.

 
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