When it was over, and the balloons had shriveled and the whistles had faded away, Lionel Messi put his hands to his head. Messi, the slick, slippery forward, was rooted to his spot: it was as if he could not believe what he was seeing.
He was not alone. Around him, the Chelsea players threw their arms over one another, hugging in equal parts glee and exhaustion, while the Barcelona players only stared, as if overwhelmed by two sobering truths: on this day, Messi, perhaps the greatest player in the world, could not score. And Barcelona, perhaps the greatest team in the world, could not win.
Instead it was Chelsea, despite playing a man short for nearly an hour in front of a frenzied crowd at the Camp Nou stadium, that advanced to the Champions League final.
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