LONDON, England -- Extra-time goals from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba gave Chelsea a 3-2 victory over Liverpool to send the London side into a Champions League final showdown against English Premier League rivals Manchester United, 4-3 on aggregate.
Didier Drogba (right) and Frank Lampard both found the net as Chelsea secured their final place in Moscow.
Lampard, playing his first game since the death of his mother last week, coolly slotted home a 98th-minute penalty and Drogba, who had opened the scoring in the first-half, sent Chelsea to the final in Moscow on May 21 with a timely second goal.
Fernando Torres had given Liverpool hope with a second-half equaliser but they failed to finish the job and Chelsea made them pay in a pulsating extra period which also saw Ryan Babel grab a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Drogba, who Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had accused of being a 'diver' prior to the match, looked like a man on a mission to ram the Spaniards words down his throat.
The Ivory Coast striker forced Jose Reina to turn his skidding 15-meter effort around the post in the fifth minute.
Four minutes later, Liverpool put together their only meaningful move of the opening half when a quick Steven Gerrard pass put Fernando Torres in behind the Chelsea defense.
However, the Spanish striker's first touch was not deft enough and although he bore down on Petr Cech, the Chelsea goalkeeper did well to close down his space and options.
The wet conditions hampered both sides but it was Chelsea who mastered them quicker. In the 18th minute, Lampard despatched a delightful pass into the path of Drogba but the striker was a meter wide with his shot.
Chelsea were in the ascendancy and their supremacy was underlined by Michael Essien's 20-meter effort which had to be collected by Reina at the foot of his right-hand post.
Liverpool were struggling to keep pace with the home side and their worries increased when central defender Martin Skrtel was forced off with a knee injury in the 21st minute to be replaced by Sami Hyypia.
Reina was forced to punch clear a long-range effort from Ballack but the goal Chelsea had threatened for most of the half arrived in style in the 33rd minute.
The architect was England midfielder Lampard. He cleverly split the Liverpool defense to give Salomon Kalou the chance to run on and fire a shot that Reina could only palm into the path of the onrushing Drogba.
The Ivorian does not miss such gifts and he sent a low drive fizzing into the net at the near post to give London side a 2-1 aggregate lead.
Drogba, clearly hurt by Benitez's criticism of his 'diving', then ran the length of the half to celebrate his goal in front of the Liverpool manager.
Chelsea's domination almost brought them a second four minutes before the interval but Michael Ballack's measured free-kick veered just the wrong side of the post.
Dirk Kuyt almost hauled Liverpool back into the tie three minutes after the restart but his shot met the outstretched leg of Cech before Ashley Cole cleared.
After Lampard's 53rd-minute volley was well held by Reina, Liverpool finally broke their goalscoring hoodoo when Yossi Benayoun carved out a chance for Torres.
The Spaniard collected the ball in his stride just inside the penalty area before sliding it beyond the exposed Cech to make it 2-2 on aggregate -- the 64th-minute effort was Liverpool's first at Stamford Bridge in nine games under Benitez.
Both sides sought a winner -- but the 90 minutes ended all-square and the contest went into extra-time.
Liverpool almost snatched the lead within minutes of the restart but Hyypia's header fell wide of the post with Cech beaten.
Chelsea then thought they had done enough when Essien sent a 15-meter effort into the net -- but it was rightly disallowed for offside.
However, in the 98th minute, Ballack was brought down by Hyypia inside the box and referee Roberto Rosetti pointed to the spot.
Lampard kept his composure to send Reina the wrong way and was in tears as he celebrated with his teammates near the corner flag.
Worse was to come for Liverpool when substitute Nicolas Anelka got free on the right and pulled the ball back for Drogba to fire under Reina.
An error from Cech gifted Babel a late goal from longe range but Chelsea held on to reach their first ever Champions League final.
"This is something amazing. I am really pleased for the club because we have been looking for this final for too long," said Drogba, who admitted that he was "disappointed" by Benitez's pre-match comments.
"Benitez is a fantastic coach and I was a bit disappointed but I think he felt his team was not strong enough and Chelsea were going to beat them.
"I am just happy for my team and I don't want to think about others. It's not good for my image. I'm giving my best to put my team at the top and I think it's not fair but it's finished now."
Benitez believed his side were in control when they handed Chelsea the initiative in extra-time. The Spaniard said: "I thought we were very close. We played well in the second half but the third goal killed it. We had control of the game but missd two chances in extra-time."
Benitez insisted he did not regret his criticism of Drogba, saying: "I don't think so, when you play a semifinal in the Champions League I don't think you think about anything other than that."
Chelsea manager Avram Grant admitted he was proud to have succeeded in beating Benitez's Liverpool in the Champions League last four -- something his predecessor Jose Mourinho failed to manage.
"There is only one special one," he joked. "But this was special against Liverpool. They are a fantastic team and Rafa played it tactically well.
"You need to be clever against him but we did it. We have created history and I am very proud we did it my way -- but I don't like to say 'I' because owner Roman Abramovich created this club.
Grant, who has guided his team to a strong end-of-season charge on two fronts, also praised Lampard's efforts in trying times.
"Frank played very well and in my opinion was one of our key players today. It is not an easy thing. He gave everything to the team," added Grant. E-mail to a friend
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