Barcelona's dream return leaves Chelsea with nightmares

Camp Nou, Barcelona – 18/04/2000 – Quarter-finals
Barcelona
Barcelona
Rivaldo 24, 99 ET (P) Figo 45 Dani García 83 Kluivert 104 ET
5 - 1
Chelsea
  • Flo 60
Chelsea
Touch of genius

"We just played a perfect game that day." Luís Figo

1999/00

• Spain had three representatives in the semi-finals – Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Valencia CF – and for the first time two sides from the same nation contested the UEFA Champions League showpiece.

• Barcelona scored in each of their 16 UEFA Champions League games and racked up a record 45 goals for the campaign, Rivaldo hitting ten as he, Mário Jardel and Raúl González shared the top scorer honour.

• Simone Inzaghi became only the second player to score four goals in a game as S.S. Lazio beat Olympique de Marseille 5-1 in the second group stage. AC Milan's Marco van Basten achieved the feat in 1992.

Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona have enjoyed a series of epic duels over the years but the first, in 2000, was perhaps their finest battle.

Neither as suave nor sophisticated as manager Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea had nevertheless cultivated a style under the Italian that was serving them well. Winners of a section containing AC Milan, the Blues sailed through the second group stage and though their European bloodline was shorter than their illustrious quarter-final opponents, it mattered not initially. They won the first leg 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, seemingly in touching distance of the last four. They should have known better.

After all, a Barcelona team containing heavyweights like Rivaldo, Josep Guardiola, Patrick Kluivert and Luís Figo could never be taken lightly. Indeed, from the moment Ballon d'Or holder Rivaldo beat Chelsea goalkeeper Ed de Goey with a deflected free-kick on 24 minutes, the irrepressible hosts did not so much chip at Chelsea's new-found ascendancy as apply a wrecking ball to it.

By half-time they held the away-goals advantage. Kluivert's low shot hit a post having beaten De Goey, and Figo was on hand to collect the rebound, keep his cool and finish with aplomb. Yet as so often with such lofty dominance comes the pitfalls of complacency. Goalkeeper Ruud Hesp duly stepped into it on the hour, his sloppy clearance allowing Tore André Flo his third goal of the tie. The Blues had the edge once more.

So it remained until the closing seven minutes when Barcelona firstly drew level through Dani's header and, moments later, spurned a glorious chance to wrap up an aggregate victory when Rivaldo put wide from the penalty spot. The Brazilian maestro had a second bite at the cherry nine minutes into extra time, though, and this time made no mistake after Celestine Babayaro had been sent off for felling Figo.

Brave enough to go the same way, Rivaldo's spot kick this time went inside, rather than outside, De Goey's right-hand post. Kluivert's header added further gloss to the scoreline but, in truth, Chelsea's bubble had already burst after a night of extraordinary twists and turns. It would not be the last for these two sides.

Star players

  • Rivaldo

    A supremely talented playmaker, no other footballer can boast titles in Brazil, Spain, Greece and Uzbekistan. Yet what set Rivaldo apart was the way he performed, his flicks and feints always bruising; his dead-ball delivery deadly. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1999, the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Brazil and then, having swapped FC Barcelona for AC Milan, the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League.

  • Guardiola

    Guardiola came through FC Barcelona's youth ranks to win six Spanish titles, a European Cup and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup as an exquisitely classy if understated midfielder. 'Pep' won Olympic gold on home soil in 1992 before making an even bigger impact as Barcelona coach, collecting six titles in his first calendar year in the job. He won the Liga in each of his first three seasons and the UEFA Champions League twice in 2009 and 2011.

  • Zola

    A shrewd, diminutive forward, Zola won the 1990 Serie A title alongside Diego Maradona at SSC Napoli. He later lifted the UEFA Cup at Parma FC but it was at Chelsea FC that he truly made a name for himself. Two FA Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and a UEFA Super Cup, allied with a host of splendid goals, prompted Chelsea fans to vote Zola the club's greatest player in a 2003 poll.

What happened next?

• FC Barcelona were beaten 5-3 on aggregate by Valencia CF in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and therefore missed out on a meeting with arch-rivals Real Madrid CF in the showpiece.

• Barcelona also missed out domestically, finishing comfortably above fifth-placed Madrid in second but five points adrift of first-time Liga champions RC Deportivo La Coruña.

• Rivaldo finished joint top scorer with ten goals before losing his Ballon d'Or crown to Luís Figo, who moved from Barcelona to Madrid in a world record €60m transfer in July 2000.

• Chelsea FC ended fifth in the Premier League but earned some consolation by winning the FA Cup, beating Aston Villa FC 1-0 in the final thanks to Roberto Di Matteo's early goal.

• Despite adding that trophy to the League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumphs he oversaw in 1998, Gianluca Vialli was dismissed five games into the 2000/01 league campaign.

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