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Didier Drogba scores to lead Chelsea over Barcelona 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis
LONDON (AP) ' Didier Drogba scored in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, and Chelsea held on to beat defending champion Barcelona 1-0 Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.
Lionel Messi lost possession of the ball in midfield, and Frank Lampard passed to Ramires for a counterattack. Ramires' cross was swept into the goal by Drogba, who scuffed his shot but still beat goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Barcelona had 72 percent possession, with Alexis Sanchez hitting the crossbar in the ninth minute and Pedro Rodriguez striking a post in second-half injury time.
Just before Drogba scored, a shot by Cesc Fabregas was cleared off the goal line by Chelsea's Ashley Cole. Fabregas had fluffed a shot wide with much of the goal to shoot for in the 17th minute.
The second leg of the total-goals series is at Barcelona on Tuesday. In the other semifinal, Bayern Munich has a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid heading into next Wednesday's second leg in Spain.
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill was outstanding alongside center-back partner John Terry to repeatedly deny Lionel Messi, who failed to score for only the second time in his last 15 matches.
With the "Clasico" against Real Madrid in the Spanish league to come on Saturday and then the return leg against Chelsea three days later, Barca has little time to regroup if it wants to reach the Champions League final for the third time in four years.
Chelsea is unbeaten in its last five games against Barcelona.