How Chelsea made history in the Nou Camp… by the players who wouldn't give up
22:35 GMT, 25 April 2012
Pride, euphoria, disappointment. They were all mixed up at 36,000ft as Chelsea cruised home through the night sky in the afterglow of their heroics in Barcelona.
In their black and orange tracksuits, they sank deep into the leather seats beneath giant headphones, exhausted, with four of them stewing over the bans that will rule them out of next month's final in Munich.
John Terry, Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Didier Drogba fooled around in the aisle. They had achieved what seemed impossible.
Oh what a night: Frank Lampard is heading to his second Champions League final
'English clubs have produced some massive performances in Europe and this was one of the biggest,' said Lampard. 'It was a magnificent night for everyone involved; the players, the squad, the staff, the fans. What desire.'
Everyone agreed the outlook was bleak when Terry was sent off in the 38th minute and, less than five minutes later, Andres Iniesta scored Barcelona's second to put Chelsea 2-1 behind on aggregate.
There seemed no way out and the exasperation was personified by Drogba, who restarted the game by toe-ending the ball half the length of the pitch, straight out for a Barca goal-kick.
'We had to regroup a little bit,' said Lampard. 'You know what they're like. Barcelona are such a good team they could've gone on and smashed us 5-0 or 6-0 at that point and we were a man down; it's hard enough with 11.'
The back four was patched-up with Ramires at right back and Jose Bosingwa in central defence. Gary Cahill had hobbled off with a hamstring injury in the 12th minute.
Game-changer: Ramires (left) scored the goal that dragged Chelsea back in it
'I turned awkwardly and my foot got stuck,' said Cahill. 'I felt a pop at the top of my hamstring. Jogging around it didn't feel too bad but when I had to sprint I realised I'd done something to it.
'I'm praying it's not too bad but my hamstring will have to be absolutely torn to shreds because I was so excited when that final whistle went.'
Terry misses the final through suspension, as will Ramires, Ivanovic and Raul Meireles, who were booked.
'I'm devastated for John,' said Lampard. 'He's a huge player for the club and he's a central point as the captain. It was hard to console him on the night. He's devastated. We know how much it means to him. He'll be there with us.'
The Ramires goal, in first-half stoppage time, was the moment Chelsea roared back into the tie. It gave them something to defend and that helped them refocus during the break.
'Ramires changed the game,' said Drogba. 'We scored and they could not cope with his pace. He had some problems when he came to the Premier League but this season he has been amazing.'
Didier's delight: Drogba scored a decisive goal in the first leg at Stamford Bridge
There was another lift when Lionel Messi smacked a second-half penalty against the bar and again when an offside flag ruled out a 'goal' by Sanchez.
'I waited for the last moment until he (Messi) shot before I decided which way to go,' said Cech. 'He hit the bar. What more can I say Sometimes the ball will go in and other times it doesn't.'
Messi has not scored in seven games against Chelsea.
'I don't know if it was a penalty but you don't expect Messi to miss,' said Lampard. 'He's the best player in the world for a reason but we're all fallible. I've got teams I don't score against so much and even Messi has by the looks of it.'
Terry and Cahill watched the dramatic finale on television in the tunnel area.
'It was so nerve-wracking,' said Cahill. 'It was a horrible feeling and then an amazing feeling when Fernando (Torres) went through on goal. We tipped the tunnel upside down. Everything went over. It was amazing.'
Torres struck in the second minute of stoppage time.
Team player: John Terry (left) will be suspended from the final after his red card
'When he ran clear you knew the outcome,' said Lampard. 'They're not easy because when you've got so much time you can sometimes think yourself into trouble but he's got that burst of pace and once the keeper was straightened up in the middle of the goal he could've gone either way.
'He completely deserves it because his behaviour and his professionalism have been impeccable since he's been here.
'It's tough as a striker because you get judged on goals but at the same time big players produce in big games and big moments.'
Roberto Di Matteo sprinted onto the pitch to hug his players at the final whistle. When he took over, Chelsea were 3-1 down after the first leg of the round of 16 against Napoli. Now they are in the final.
'Nobody from outside believed,' said Cech. 'But we have beaten the best team in the world and now anything is possible. You must always believe and we believe.
'Maybe it's our destiny. It's why everyone loves football. Things happen which you just cannot explain. Your season looks to be in trouble and then you have an amazing run.
'For the last seven years we had no luck in the Champions League. Now we are having some luck. It's been unbelievable what we've done to get here.'