In club historian Rick Glanvill's latest look back on a classic Chelsea match against our next opponents, a thrilling tie with Valencia that went right to the wire is remembered...
Two days after beating Tottenham 1-0 in the league in April 2007, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea flew to Spain to take on a Valencia side managed by Quique Sanchez Flores (now reappointed at Watford) at their Mestalla home – a fortress supposedly impregnable to English invaders.
The first leg of the quarter-final at the Bridge had ended 1-1 and the Blues started the second leg the brighter, two headers from Frank Lampard corners narrowly missing the target. An old foe, Fernando Morientes, then stepped in to threaten the Londoners’ progress. The former Monaco and Liverpool striker had already struck a post, and slotted past Petr Cech to hand Los Che an aggregate advantage going into the interval.
Mourinho acted decisively, replacing Lassana Diarra with Joe Cole for the second half, switching to 4-3-3, and moving Michael Essien, only just back from injury, to right-back.
Meanwhile, Didier Drogba and home centre-back Roberto Ayala fought a fascinating personal duel. The Ivorian’s superb header had drawn a brilliant save from Santiago Canizares, and soon after the break his determination to meet a chipped Essien free-kick set the ball loose so that Andriy Shevchenko could sweep in from close-range.
It would be those half-time rolls of the dice that had 2,500 traveling fans jumping for joy in injury time, however. Substitute Joe Cole slipped the ball cleverly down the line, and the overlapping Essien thrashed a low shot in at the near post for the winner. (There was a sting in the tail for the Ghanaian, sadly: a booking meant he missed the first leg of the semi-final against Liverpool.)
As a result, Chelsea became the first English side to taste victory at Mestalla in a UEFA competition, and the only one since Leeds in the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, 40 years earlier.