Paper Round: Drogba 1 Messi 0

Only one story dominates the sports pages of Thursday's papers and that is Chelsea's Champions League win over Barcelona.


Here are the key headlines and thoughts from all the main daily papers on Roberto Di Matteo's side's 1-0 victory over the European Champions.


Daily Mail: Drogba 1 Messi 0

Matt Barlow: "So there it was: Motorbikes 1 Art 0, as previewed by Cesc Fabregas, who turned out to be far more accurate with his pre-match assessment than he was in front of goal. Chelsea would seek to counter Barcelona's pretty brushstrokes with horse power, suspected Fabregas, with the world-weariness of a man who had been here before. How many times did he see Arsenal's careful designs shredded by the blue machine at Stamford Bridge? How many times during his time in London did the Gunners take the acclaim as the Blues took the silverware? Chelsea had reverted to what they do best, said Fabregas. They had gone long-ball, route-one, 'like motorbikes', he said. 'They are so fast.' He spat it out as a disciple of Arsene Wenger would but it was a back-handed compliment since there seems no other realistic way to beat Barcelona."


The Guardian: Dogged Blues rider their luck to get job half done

Richard Williams: "In its way Chelsea's play was as cerebral as that of Barcelona, requiring a ferocious degree of concentration and self-discipline from each player. After the interval the vast majority of the game was played in the space between the halfway line and the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, with the five blue shirted midfield players screening the patterns created by the men in black, forcing them to play the ball wide and then relying on the defenders to intercept and block. There was something almost exhilarating about Chelsea's resistance. Once again the effect of the mood-shift of recent weeks was rewardingly apparent as they gave themselves what most observers had considered an impossibility: a sporting chance in Camp Nou next week, against opponents now uncomfortably aware that they have a job on their hands. And how Didier Drogba would like to have the last word."


Daily Telegraph: Bolt from the Blue

Henry Winter: "To the delight of their highly vocal fans, Chelsea’s defending was immense. This was not anti-football; few of the game’s dark arts stained Chelsea’s play, barring Drogba’s occasional theatricality. There was little shirt-pulling, no filthy challenges, no baulking. Chelsea just defended well. If this had been AC Milan, Inter Milan or anybody else from the land of catenaccio, the headlines would have bubbled with paeans for such defensive virtues."


Daily Mirror: Barc are worse than Drog bite

Martin Lipton: "Half-way to Paradise. Half-way to the Promised Land.The unlikely dream lives on, shining brighter than anyone could have believed, after a victory chiseled out of sheer resilience, utter desire, complete and total conviction. And while the most difficult, perilous stage of the ultimate Chelsea journey has to be survived and travelled in the Nou Camp next week, nobody can count them out."


The Times: Drogba brings down Barcelona

Matt Dickinson: "if these are the last 73 days of Didier Drogba's Chelsea career, the big Ivorian is determined to leave an impossible hole to fill in West London. A cannonball shot at Wembley and, last night, the goal that shocked the world, or at least made it contemplate a previously unthinkable conquest of Barcelona. You can be infuriated by Dorgba's antics, and there was plenty of outrage led by Wayne Rooney on Twitter last night, but you can also be sure that the queue to sign him and the size of the cheques will be almost unprecedented for a 34-year-old with all those miles on the clock."


The Sun: Salutes Blue Sir

Shaun Custis: "Give the Drog a bone and he will chew it up. Barca may be a bunch of chums with all the pedigree but veteran striker Didier Drogba converted Chelsea’s one chance to take a slender advantage to the Nou Camp."


Daily Star: Salute dad's army

Brian Woolnough: "It will be a miracle if Barcelona don’t score at the Nou Camp next Tuesday. After this result though Chelsea can believe in miracles. Fate, luck, call it what you like. Chelsea had the Gods with them last night. Maybe it’s meant to be and this is going to be Roberto Di Matteo’s side’s year in the Champions League. What they have always dreamed of. Completely outplayed by Barcelona, they find themselves a goal in front heading for the semi-final second leg.No one at Stamford Bridge really knew how they did it other than plenty of guts, determination and courage."


Daily Express: Blues clean up the Messi

John Dillon: "At the end of a tumultuous night in the rain, Lionel Messi and John Terry stood in the centre circle and exchanged shirts and embraces. On most Champions League occasions, the jersey of Barcelona’s shy little prince of dazzle and dexterity is the shimmering prize to be claimed after the game. This time, after Chelsea’s latest momentous stand of defiance and will in Europe, he took second place in the exchange. For once, he was the junior partner in this. It was as if his acceptance of Terry’s blue colours was also an acknowledgement that he and his celebrated team-mates had been tamed. It was the moment that defined the fact that Barca can be brought down to earth from their ethereal football planet after all."


The Independent: Messi and co outmuscled by Chelsea's defensive master plan

James Lawton: "You couldn't know for sure whether it was an act of provocation or a serious statement about Chelsea's ill-considered potential to not only embarrass but also beat possibly the most celebrated team in the history of football. Such ambiguity so often lurks at the shoulder of Didier Drogba. One minute he is the Lion of Africa and then a rather self-indulgent pussycat. He gave us both versions on the way to the moment he landed the blow that was surely heard all over Europe."

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