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Chelsea striker Didier Drogba answers critics with winner against Barcelona

By Ben Rumsby

Didier Drogba declared he had answered the critics who branded him over the hill after scoring the winner in Chelsea's incredible 1-0 win over Barcelona.

The 34-year-old found the net with his - and the Blues' - only shot on target in last night's semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge to give Roberto Di Matteo's men hope of reaching next month's final.

Otherwise, like the rest of his team-mates, the veteran striker was limited almost exclusively to chasing around a Barca side who had 72% possession.

Drogba looks certain to leave Chelsea when his contract expires this summer after the club refused to offer him more than a one-year extension.

Some have doubted whether the Ivorian's body is still able to handle playing two matches in quick succession, but the man who also scored a stunning opener in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final thrashing of Tottenham said: "For those who said that I was too old, they saw that I could run maybe one, two or three more years!"

Chelsea's so-called old guard led by example again last night, with Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole magnificent in carrying out caretaker manager Di Matteo's inspirational game plan.

The Italian looks certain to deploy the same tactics in Tuesday's second leg at the Nou Camp, where the Blues will need to be just as clinical.

"We have to go there now and try to score another one," said Drogba, who knew that would mean Barca having to score three, something they could easily have done last night had they not wasted the five gilt-edged chances that fell their way.

Drogba added: "That's football and I think we were a bit lucky.

"You have to work for luck to come and to happen.

"We worked a lot. We worked hard."

Despite claiming he had plenty more fuel in the tank, Drogba looks certain to be rested for Saturday's crucial Barclays Premier League clash at Arsenal.

That could have a major say in whether Chelsea qualify for next season's Champions League by finishing in the top four or are forced to try to win the competition to do so.

Drogba said: "It's a difficult week, difficult 10 days for us after Spurs, this game, and then Arsenal, and then again Barcelona.

"It's going to be an important, very decisive week for us, and I think we're up for it."

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