Seemingly invincible champions never go down quietly. They tend to exit after a brutal blow to the cabeza that leaves them stumbling in a daze.
So it was Tuesday for Barcelona, the reigning king of soccer, which coughed up a one-goal-aggregate lead with a man advantage and 45 minutes to play against an overmatched side from Chelsea that did everything to hold on but park its team bus in front of the goal during their Champions League semifinal.
The ultimate shock came in the 48th minute when Lionel Messi, widely recognized as the greatest player on the planet, clanked a penalty kick off the crossbar, planting new hopes into a Chelsea side that few believed capable of advancing.
When the final whistle blew, Chelsea had managed a 2-2 draw at Barca's hallowed Camp Nou. The result left a team that was seen as perhaps the greatest of all time a goal short in the home-and-home semifinal. Chelsea won the opening leg last week at Stamford Bridge in London 1-0.