This week, African Football HQ are celebrating the most outstanding African performances in the Champions League semi-finals.
Some of the continent’s biggest names—including the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane—have made major impacts at this stage of the European Cup.
Riyad Mahrez added his name to that illustrious list this year, as the Algeria maestro put Paris Saint-Germain to the sword across both legs in order to reach their first ever UCL final.
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No club, however, have benefited from African stars in the semi-finals as much as Chelsea, who relied on some major African performances as they reached two finals and fell short on other occasions.
— Goal Africa (@GoalAfrica) May 4, 2021
2021 provides another opportunity for the Pensioners’ African stars to make a big impact in the tournament and reach the final, their first since 2012, with Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech on course to oust Real Madrid.
They are following in the footsteps of giants, and on this week’s AFHQ Unplugged, Ed Dove reviews and celebrates some of Chelsea’s biggest and best performances in the UCL semis.
Didier Drogba’s showing in 2008 was particularly memorable, as he scored twice against Liverpool to help the Blues win a tempestuous showdown 3-2 on the night to progress 4-3 on aggregate.
On that occasion, the Londoners were defeated in the final by Manchester United.
A year later, it was Michael Essien who stole the show in the semi.
The Bison netted a wondergoal—a left-footed volley from outside the box—to breathe hope into Chelsea’s campaign in the ninth minute of the semi-final second leg.
However, a horror refereeing display—the Blues were arguably denied three clear penalties—ultimately cost them the chance of making the final.
Essien’s goal—while breathtaking—ultimately amounted to nothing.
The same can’t be said, however, for John Obi Mikel’s performance against Barcelona in the 2012 semi-final. It was a mammoth display by the midfielder, as he delivered a commanding display to ensure the Blues progressed.
This set the stage for Drogba to down Bayern Munich and bring the UCL to Stamford Bridge for the first time in the club’s history.