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Barça denied by last-gasp Drogba
An added-time equaliser from Didier Drogba denied European champions FC Barcelona what would have been a valuable victory in UEFA Champions League Group A and kept unbeaten Chelsea FC clear in the standings. Barça denied Deco had given the home side an early lead and, although Frank Lampard equalised seven minutes into the second period, Barça looked on course for their first win in three European matches when their summer signing from Chelsea, Eidur Gudjohnsen, prodded in just before the hour. Three minutes into stoppage time, however, Drogba turned in John Terry s header to cut short the home celebrations. Werder Bremen s 3-0 success at PFC Levski Sofia means the holders slip to third ahead of their Matchday 5 meeting with Levski, when Chelsea visit Germany. Early advantage This was the clubs sixth meeting in the last three editions of the competition, but the visitors were nevertheless caught cold as early as the third minute. That the opening goal came from Deco was noteworthy not only because his rise to prominence came under José Mourinho at FC Porto, but also because he has - by his own admission - been off form recently. However, everything about the goal smacked of excellence. The midfielder s first touch was like glue before he advanced into space created by Ronaldinho s clever run to strike a marvellous drive inside the far post from the corner of the area. Clear chance Within five minutes Barça should have doubled their advantage as Lionel Messi played a one-two with Gianluca Zambrotta and found Ronaldinho but the Brazilian shot over. Chelsea did not ignore their fortune and immediately regrouped with Arjen Robben, deputising for the injured Andriy Shevchenko, allowing Michael Essien s crossfield pass to arrive in the path of Michael Ballack for an effort that skimmed the roof of the net. Thrilling saves The game continued at breakneck speed with both sets of players fully committed, although a number of bookings - one of which rules Lampard out of Matchday 5 - interrupted the flow. Chelsea were indebted to goalkeeper Hilário for a superb block from Xavi Hernández when Ronaldinho sent the midfielder through, and Víctor Valdés also had the chance to show his ability before the break, producing flying stops from Essien and Robben. Lampard levels Robben then failed to convert two presentable opportunities as Chelsea continued to threaten but the visitors did draw level seven minutes into the second period. Claude Makelele s lob set Lampard clear and, although the midfielder s first touch forced him wide, he reacted with an astounding lob over Valdés from the tightest of angles. Chelsea s celebrations had barely died down before they were behind once more, Ronaldinho s foray down the left allowing Gudjohnsen to gleefully score from close range. Barça under threat Gudjohnsen was subsequently forced off by an ankle injury but when Ballack sent Salomon Kalou s tempting cross high over the bar with five minutes of normal time remaining, Chelsea looked a beaten side. Drogba had other ideas, though, and his goal left the English champions needing a point in Bremen to make sure of a place in the knockout stages. For Barcelona, two points behind Bremen, the picture is very different.