Bridge Silences Highbury  (Sky Sports)

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2

Frank Lampard celbratesChelsea ended their Arsenal hoodoo as Wayne Bridge's dramatic late goal at Highbury sent Claudio Ranieri's men into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the club's history.

The England international scored three minutes from full time after Frank Lampard had cancelled out Jose Antonio Reyes' first half goal to hand Chelsea a 3-2 aggregate success and a semi-final date against Monaco, who stunned Real Madrid in their quarter final.

The Blues headed into the match on a 17-game winless streak against their London foes but The Premiership's big-spenders thoroughly deserved the victory which leaves Arsenal's season on the brink of collapse.

Arsene Wenger's fears surrounding the fitness of Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg proved unfounded as the pair both started while Thierry Henry and Ashley Cole were back in the starting line-up.

In a rare move, the fabled Tinkerman - Claudio Ranieri - stuck with the team which kicked off in the 1-0 victory over Tottenham at the weekend.

The pace was frenetic from the first whistle with Lampard and Edu trying their luck from range to no avail while William Gallas and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were early names in Markus Merk's notebook.

The first clear sight of goal fell Arsenal's way after Edu played the ball into Henry but, rather than surge into the box, the French livewire let fly from distance as his shot arrowed over the bar.

Henry was then provided with another opening after a precise pass from Spanish whizz-kid Reyes but he uncharacteristically rolled his shot wide of the goal.

Chelsea struggled to string a collection of passes together and it was from a piece of individual magic that they spurned their only real opportunity of the first half on 21 minutes.

Eidur Gudjohnsen's clever flick sent Damien Duff sprinting past Kolo Toure and towards the box. The Irishman darted inside Sol Campbell but, with the goal in his sights, he scuffed his shot wide under a challenge from Edu.

Highbury erupted on 39 minutes in the mistaken belief Robert Pires had broken the deadlock when the French rover's glancing header from Cole's cross rippled the side-netting.

Cole was then in the right place at the right time in his own box as his touch on Wayne Bridge's cross denied Gudjohnsen a clean header.

In first half injury time, Arsenal delivered a killer blow to their London rivals when Lauren's cross to the far post was headed back by Henry and Reyes was on hand to dispatch the ball through the legs of the previously untested Marco Ambrosio.

Jesper Gronkjaer was introduced at half time for Scott Parker and, within six minutes of the restart, Chelsea had hauled themselves level courtesy of poor goalkeeping from Lehmann.

Arsenal cleared the ball only as far as Claude Makelele who wasted little time in drilling a shot goalwards. Lehmann merely palmed the ball straight in front of him to the predatory Lampard who clinically punished the German's error.

Lampard almost put The Blues ahead on 58 minutes after loose control from Pires resulted in the England international curling a first-time effort just past the post.

Reyes and Henry were well shackled by the visiting rearguard with the Spaniard afforded only a fleeting glimpse of the goal on 71 minutes when he caressed a shot towards the far post which was beaten away by Ambrosio.

The Gunners then almost nosed back in front from the unlikely source of Toure who unleashed a stinging drive from 35 yards which was tipped over the bar by Ambrosio.

Chelsea responded with Gronkjaer's cross nodded into the path of Gudjohnsen by Hasselbaink but, after failing to create space for a shot, the Icelandic ace teed up Lampard whose attempt was charged down by the committed Campbell.

With ten minutes remaining, Wenger removed his most dangerous weapon from the heat of battle as Henry, who was enduring an ineffective evening, was replaced by the guile and cunning of Dennis Bergkamp while Ranieri swapped the talents of Duff and Hasselbaink for those of Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo.

Cole had an immediate impact when he was booked before wriggling free in the box to slide the ball across the six-yard area for Gudjohnsen to seemingly send Chelsea into the semi-final but Arsenal's Cole magnificently cleared off the line.

Just three minutes from time, Gudjohnsen atoned for his miss by playing a swift one-two with Bridge for the England full back to side-foot the ball low into the corner of the net.

Arsenal could have equalised moments later when a deep free kick picked out the unmarked Toure but he did not connect cleanly with his header as Ambrosio snatched the ball out of the night sky.

Time ran out for Arsenal, whose season is slowly falling apart around them and they will be anxiously looking over their shoulders at Chelsea in their bid to secure the only prize left available for them - The Premiership.


Arsenal Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg, Edu, Vieira, Pires, Henry (Bergkamp 81), Reyes.
Subs Not Used:
Stack, Keown, Wiltord, Silva, Clichy, Kanu.
Reyes 45.

Chelsea Ambrosio, Melchiot, Terry, Gallas, Bridge, Parker (Gronkjaer 46), Lampard, Makelele, Duff (Cole 82), Gudjohnsen, Hasselbaink (Crespo 82).
Subs Not Used:
Sullivan, Mutu, Geremi, Huth.
Gallas, Hasselbaink, Cole.

oals: Lampard 51, Bridge 87.

Attendance: 35,486

Referee: Markus Merk (Germany).

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