Two goals by defender Branislav Ivanovic and another from Didier Drogba completed a stunning Chelsea comeback for a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Fernando Torres had pounced in the sixth minute to give five-times European champions Liverpool the perfect start to the first leg of the quarter-final tie at Anfield.
But Chelsea, last season’s beaten finalists, will go into Tuesday’s second leg clear favorites to advance to the semi-finals after Ivanovic inspired a turnaround for Guus Hiddink’s team.
The Serbian defender took advantage of poor Liverpool marking to head home an equalizer from a corner before halftime.
Ivanovic repeated his effort with a carbon-copy goal after the break before Drogba marked his return from a toe injury with the third goal which leaves Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez praying for a miracle at Stamford Bridge.
“We need to score three goals in the second leg. That’s going to be very difficult,” Benitez told a news conference.
Chelsea’s loss of captain John Terry to suspension for the return leg after he was booked for a foul on Liverpool keeper Jose Reina will worry them less after this result.
Liverpool were left regretting their failure to build on the perfect start after Torres side-footed his side into a sixth-minute lead from Alvaro Arbeloa’s pin-point cross.
Chelsea ought to have equalized when Drogba was teed-up in the 28th by Michael Ballack but 11 minutes later Ivanovic punished Liverpool’s slack marking when he rose unchallenged to nod Florent Malouda’s corner past Reina.
Only a desperate goal line clearance by Jamie Carragher prevented Drogba from delivering a killer blow in the 51st minute after Frank Lampard’s defence-splitting pass.
But Chelsea then took control of the tie with two goals in the space of five minutes.
Again the Liverpool defense went missing as Ivanovic rose to power Lampard’s 62nd-minute corner into the net.
Liverpool’s night of misery was complete when Drogba finally found the target in the 67th from Malouda’s cross from the left.
In the night’s other quarter-final Barcelona produced a stunning display to overwhelm Bayern Munich 4-0 in their first leg tie at the Camp Nou.
All the goals came in a thrilling first half, Lionel Messi netting twice and Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry once each as the Primera Liga leaders took firm control of the tie ahead of the second leg on Tuesday.
Bayern had no answer to Barca’s pace and slick passing and the Catalans took the lead in the ninth minute when Eto’o slipped the ball through to Messi who clipped a low shot past Hans Joerg Butt.
Messi returned the favor soon after, releasing Eto’o on the right of the area to fire between Butt’s legs into the far corner.
Henry created the third in the 38th minute with a burst of pace that took him past Massimo Oddo and Messi turned his low cross high into the net.
Messi and Eto’o were again involved in the build-up to the fourth goal and when the ball fell to Henry on the left of the penalty area it was a simple task for the Frenchman to sidefoot the ball past Butt two minutes before half-time.