Chelsea progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League after a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge gave them a 3-1 aggregate victory over Benfica
Frank Lampard had put Chelsea ahead on the night with a first-half penalty. And the home side seemed certain to progress when Benfica were reduced to 10 men before half-time. Yet Chelsea failed to kill the tie and Javi Garcia made it 2-1 on aggregate with just five minutes remaining. But Raul Meireles finally put the Portuguese side to bed with a goal in injury time.
Chelsea began with David Luiz in the center of their defense after the Brazilian was passed fir following an ankle injury sustained against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Benfica were not so lucky with their defensive injuries, however. With center-backs Luisao, Jardel, Miguel Vitor and Ezequiel Garay all out injured, Jorge Jesus' side were forced to play left-back Emerson alongside midfielder Javi Garcia in the heart of their defense.
And that weakness was explicitly exposed after 20 minutes. Ashley Cole burst through down the left of the Benfica box and Javi Garcia, poorly positioned, crudely and blatantly blocked off the Chelsea left-back as he cut inside.
From the penalty spot, Frank Lampard, recalled to the side after being left out of the first-leg, drilled the penalty low into the left side of the net. Benfica goalkeeper Artur dove the right way but the strike just escape his outstretched hands.
For protesting too vigorously about the award of the penalty, Maxi Perreira was given a yellow card for his troubles, something he would come to bitterly regret before half-time
The Benfica right-back was shown a second caution for a poor challenge on Mikel John Obi that reduced Benfica to 10 men and made their already difficult task virtually insurmountable.
Chelsea should have put the tie completely out of Benfica's reach had Ramires not spurned a gilt-edged opportunity shortly after the restart. From Salomon Kalou's cross, Ramires somehow missed the ball from a yard out with the goal gaping.
But despite being a man down, Benfica continued to have more possession, yet never seriously looked like getting back into the tie.
Indeed, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus also appeared resigned to defeat. In the second-half Jesus withdrew Ocasr Cardozo, Nicolas Gaitan and Bruno Cesar, perhaps with his thoughts turning to their crucial league match against rivals Sporting Lisbon in a few days time.
Yet the tie was reignited five minuted from time when Javi Garcia atoned in part for his first-half error by heading in a corner.
With Benfica pushing desperately for the one goal that would have taken them through on away goals, Raul Meireles led a break from the back and lashed home an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area that put the result beyond doubt.
The result sets-up a rematch of the dramatic 2009 Champions League semi-final when Chelsea lost on away goals following an injury-time goal from Barcelona's Andres Iniesta. And revenge will firmly be on the minds of Chelsea fans and many of the players going into the contest later this month. Those connected with Chelsea still feel that it was the poor decisions of the referee in the second-leg of the tie that cost them their rightful place in the final.