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English soccer's top two sides, Manchester United and Chelsea,
English soccer's top two sides, Manchester United and Chelsea, are to meet in the Champions League final in Moscow on May 21 after Chelsea knocked Liverpool out of the tournament in an emotionally charged semi-final on Wednesday evening.

After Manchester United ground out a hard-fought 1-0 win with an impressive defensive display at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, after a goalless first leg, it became clear that Moscow's Luzhniki stadium would witness the first ever all-English Champions League final - the only question was who Manchester's opponents would be.

The semi-final clash between Chelsea and Liverpool was the third in four years at this stage, with Liverpool having come out on top on the two previous occasions.

However, after a John Arne Riise own goal in the last minute of injury time had handed Chelsea a vital away goal in the first leg, the match finishing 1-1, the London side went into the deciding game the slight favorites.

Didier Drogba, criticized before the game by Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for 'diving,' opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a powerful shot from just inside the area. However, Liverpool's own prolific goalscorer, Fernando Torres, leveled the tie with a typically well taken goal in the 64th minute, sending the match into extra time.

In the 98th minute Chelsea were awarded a penalty, and Frank Lampard, still grieving the recent death of his mother Pat, stepped up to convert it, bursting into tears after giving Chelsea the lead for the second time.

Drogba hammered home Chelsea's third a little under ten minutes later, and despite a second Liverpool goal by Ryan Babel, Chelsea held on to make it into their first ever Champions League final.

Reaching the Moscow final is a personal triumph for Chelsea manager Avram Grant, labeled 'Average' Grant by the English media for the supposedly unattractive football he introduced after the side's former trainer, the 'Special One' Jose Mourinho left the club in 2007. Mourinho, while winning the Premier League twice for Chelsea, was however unable to take the team to a Champions League final. Grant, overcome with emotion, fell to his knees after the final whistle.

"There's only one 'special one'," the Israeli trainer joked after the game, adding that, "We have created history and I am very proud we did it my way. But I don't like to say 'I' because Roman [Abramovich], he created this club, my staff are excellent, my assistants, everybody."

Russia's capital is now set to be flooded by English soccer fans, with a combined total of over 40,000 Manchester United and Chelsea fans expected to make the trip to Moscow. The trip will be an expensive one, not to mention a logistic nightmare, as fans attempt to secure accommodation in a city renowned for its lack of budget hotels, receive a visa on time, and get their hands on a plane ticket.

The match may also prove to be a security nightmare, with fears of clashes between English supporters, notorious for their drinking and less than gentleman-like behavior, and representatives of Russia's growing hooligan scene.

Both British and Russian media have reported that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has booked up hotels, nightclubs and restaurants across the Russian capital in anticipation of a big night out should his club lift the trophy.

Abramovich, who is also the governor of the Chukotka Autonomous Area in Russia's Far East, bought Chelsea in 2003. The side has won the English Premier League twice since then.

The Champions League final has seen two previous finals between sides from a single country - Spain's Real Madrid defeating Valencia in 2000 and Italy's AC Milan triumphing over Juventus in 2003.


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