With Chelsea playing in the Champions League Round of 16 for the 17th time today, we take a look at some of our best performances at this stage of the competition over the past two decades.
Since the format of Europe’s biggest club competition was last tweaked in 2003/04, with an extra knockout round replacing a second group stage, the Blues have regularly appeared in the last 16, missing out in only three of the past 20 seasons.
And our success rate in this round has been decent, with last season’s 4-1 aggregate victory over French champions Lille securing our progression to the quarter-finals for the 10th time in 16 attempts.
To whet your appetite for our showdown with Borussia Dortmund, here are five of the Blues’ most memorable wins in the last 16 of the Champions League.
2004/05 – Barcelona
In an epic clash between the league leaders of England and Spain, Chelsea trailed 2-1 from the first leg and were without the suspended Didier Drogba after his red card in the Camp Nou. However, we made an excellent start at the Bridge and went 4-2 up on aggregate after Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff found the net in a breath-taking opening 19 minutes.
The visitors roared back though. Ronaldinho netted from the penalty spot before adding his second with a stunning effort from outside the box seven minutes before half-time which put Barca ahead on away goals.
There was no let-up in the action in the second half as both teams went close to adding to the scoreline before John Terry rose to head in Duff’s corner 15 minutes from time to put us back on top.
Despite relentless pressure from the Catalans in the closing minutes, the blue wall held firm as we marched on to the quarter-finals after a momentous 5-4 aggregate victory.
2006/07 – Porto
Chelsea appeared to have the upper hand after a 1-1 draw in Portugal but we made a poor start in the return game and fell behind. Future Blue loanee Ricardo Quaresma beat the offside trap and slid the ball under Petr Cech after 15 minutes.
In the absence of John Terry, Chelsea looked nervous and disjointed and posed little threat until a huge stroke of fortune early in the second half. Arjen Robben’s tame effort from 25 yards was mishandled by Porto keeper Heldon and bobbled over his body for the equaliser.
With confidence restored, the Blues dominated from thereon and scored the winner 11 minutes from time. A cross from the left was nodded on by Drogba to Andrey Shevchenko who headed it back to the centre of the box for Michael Ballack to smash in a controlled volley, sealing a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
2008/09 – Juventus
With Guus Hiddink in charge as caretaker manager, the Blues outlasted Italian giants Juventus in a hard-fought tie to reach the quarter-finals for the fifth time in six seasons.
Our 1-0 advantage from the first leg in London, courtesy of a Drogba goal, was wiped out when Vincenzo Iaquinta fired past Petr Cech after 16 minutes in Turin as the home side began strongly. They threatened to pull away with a vibrant display in the opening half-hour.
But after weathering the storm, Chelsea struck back on the stroke of half-time through Michael Essien who bundled the ball home from close range, shortly after we had been wrongly denied a goal when the officials failed to spot a Drogba effort which had crossed the goal-line.
Needing to score twice in the second half to overcome Essien’s away goal, Juve pulled one back after 74 minutes through an Alessandro Del Piero penalty but Drogba settled the match seven minutes from time, turning in Juliano Belletti’s low cross to make it 3-2 on aggregate.
2011/12 – Napoli
A classic comeback which epitomised the never-say-die spirit which lifted Chelsea to our first Champions League title in 2012.
The Blues had looked destined for an early exit from the competition after we had been outplayed by Napoli in a 3-1 loss at the Stadio Sao Paolo but on an evening of high drama and emotion back at the Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo’s side produced a stirring performance to see off the Italian side.
Fine headers by Drogba and Terry either side of half-time erased the two-goal deficit but Gokhan Inler’s well-taken volley after 55 minutes meant we had to come from behind once again.
The home side stood tall, however, with Frank Lampard holding his nerve to thump in a penalty to level things up again with 15 minutes remaining. Branislav Ivanovic fired home a memorable winner in extra-time to put us back on the road to glory in Munich.
2020/21 – Atletico Madrid
It might not have been as dramatic as some of our previous last 16 wins but the 3-0 aggregate victory over Atletico Madrid two years ago was a hugely significant result, and it featured one of the club’s finest goals on the continental stage.
The immediate impact of Olivier Giroud’s exquisite strike which secured a 1-0 win in the first leg was somewhat lost with no fans present to watch the game in Bucharest, and a long VAR review needed to overturn the original offside decision. Thankfully the officials got it right and awarded the Frenchman’s stunning bicycle kick which won the Chelsea Goal of the Season award.
Atletico were riding high in La Liga at the time and went on to win the Spanish league title that year but they could not breach the Chelsea defence over 180 minutes as goals by Hakim Ziyech and Emerson in the return game in London confirmed our passage to the quarter-finals.
It was the first time we had made it past the Champions League Round of 16 for seven seasons and the psychological boost of overcoming that barrier powered Thomas Tuchel’s side to glory as we went on to be crowned champions of Europe for a second time.