Chelsea ended their Champions League game with a 1-1 draw over a very good Paris Saint Germain side. The vital away goal was provided by none other than, Chelsea’s in-form defender Branislav Ivanovic. He now has three goals in five games – a scoring record decent enough for a striker even. Over the years, he has been there, scoring some very important goals for the club.
Chelsea were back to winning ways in the Premier League when they beat Aston Villa. Ivanovic scored a beautiful half volley to send the Blues 7 points clear. Even though, there are 13 games to play in the season, that might have been one of the most important goals he has scored in a Chelsea shirt. The shot was nothing less than brilliant, and this, not the first time Ivanovic has saved Chelsea.
Ivanovic is arguably one of the best right backs in the Premier League at present. He has scored four goals and has three assists this season, making him the highest scoring defender of the current campaign. He has been brilliant at the back and also at going down the right wing, causing many opposing team defenders a lot of trouble. His attacking prowess and his ability to finish has given him the extra edge over other defenders and that puts him right at the top.
The present Chelsea side is more attacking and hence this has helped Ivanovic make that right-wing his own. He adds an extra dimension to Chelsea's play and provides the team with an extra attacking option- a very good one at that! He is not afraid to take a shot, and he has very good finishing skills. Every time the team needed someone to step up, Ivanovic has been the man for Chelsea. Over the years, the big Serb has scored some very important goals for the team. If you look at the goals he has scored, it can be noticed that the right back has won Chelsea many trophies.
Ivanovic has made a habit of scoring important goals, but nothing can be as unforgettable as his decisive contribution against Napoli in the Champions League of 2012. He contributed to one of the finest comebacks in Chelsea history. The Blues had to play the second leg of the Champions League last sixteen at Stamford Bridge after losing 3-1 in Naples. Roberto Di Matteo had been appointed as temporary Manager after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
Going into the game, the odds were against Chelsea, but they turned it around. Drogba and Terry had scored to take Chelsea 2 goals up. Lampard then made it 3-1 only when Napoli thought they did enough with Inler's sweet strike to make it 2-1. The game had gone into extra time and both teams were neck to neck battling it out for that quarterfinal spot. In the 14th minute of extra time, Drogba's reverse pass had reached Ivanovic, who did everything right and belted it into the back of the net. This was the starting point of Chelsea's route to Champions League glory in 2012.
The following season, Chelsea reached the Europa League final and the game was tied until the last minute of added time. A taut, treacherous Amsterdam final looked destined for extra time. But, Ivanovic thought otherwise. His towering header in the dying seconds of the match earned Chelsea a dramatic victory over SL Benfica. The Serbian peeled away from his marker at the far post to direct an imperious header into the top corner following Juan Mata's corner. The rest was history!
He scored the all important goal in the Capital One Cup to take Chelsea to Wembley once again. When Chelsea needed that extra inspiration for a very long night, Ivanovic was there, doing his business, putting the ball at the back of the net once again with that powerful head of his. After the Aston Villa game, Mourinho hailed him as one of the best signings for Chelsea. “Is he one of the club's best signings? I think so," Mourinho said. "He came immediately after I left and after that he made a fantastic contribution to this club. He is a competitive animal with a big heart.” This shows the club’s and Manager’s love and respect for the player.
Going back one year, Ivanovic was there again, saving the day for Chelsea. Chelsea had to face Manchester City, at the Etihad. City had a 100% home record and there was an aura of invincibility around them. Every team who went there came back with nothing. In a classic Mourinho performance, Chelsea stayed tight defensively and attacked on the counter, hitting the woodwork many times. But, it was Branislav Ivanovic who finally provided Chelsea with the winner that took them level on points. That day, quoting John Dykes, The Etihad had been bridged.
All these goals are proof of how great a player this man is. Despite several changes and evolutions the club has gone through since his arrival in 2008, Ivanovic has never ceased to impress and has kept his place in the squad. He has always given his best for the team, making himself one of Chelsea’s greatest defenders. After his game at Villa Park, despite scoring the winner, he told the media that he didn’t play a good game and he had to improve. This shows his character and determination to become even better. He is a classic example of a true Chelsea legend.Published 20 Feb 2015, 10:42 IST