Premiership - 11th May 2003
Rarely has a single Chelsea game had as much financial significance as it had sporting. The final game of the 2002/03 season saw us up against Liverpool in a shoot out for the fourth Champions League position, a game that was worth a potential £20million for the winner. At a time that the club was worried about substantial and increasing debts, we simply could not afford to lose.
We went into the game one point ahead of Liverpool so the draw was with us, while our visitors needed the win. That dynamic changed within ten minutes as the visitors took the lead. Against a strong defensive side we needed to reply quickly and that is exactly what happened, Marcel Desailly heading home a Jesper Gronkjaer cross. It was appropriate that Desailly should score a goal that would take us so close to the Champions League as he was our player with the most European experience and twice a European champion.
Gronkjaer himself swept home a second shortly after to give us a breathing space and the second half was relatively straightforward. Only once did Liverpool threaten when a goal was ruled out for a deliberate handball while Mario Melchiot hit the post and the crowd was treated to a brilliant cameo by Gianfranco Zola in his last game for the club.
As the final whistle sounded, the players and supporters celebrated while the money men gave one huge sigh of relief.