Chelsea signed Branislav Ivanovic as a 23-year-old from Lokomotiv in 2008 for €13 million. Despite being signed for an amount that was considerably big at the time, Ivanovic had to work hard to break into the Chelsea side.
Ivanovic has said that the initial six months at Chelsea were the most difficult period in his career and he even thought about leaving the club. However, once he hit his stride next season, there was no looking back.
Ivanovic went on to win three Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, three FA Cups, three Europa League titles, and one League Cup over the course of his nine-year stint at Stamford Bridge.
On his birthday, we go back and take a look at Branislav Ivanovic’s best moments in a Chelsea shirt.
#1 Header against Benfica in the Europa League final
The 2013 Europa League final was heading into extra-time when Ivanovic scored Chelsea’s winner in the dying embers of the game. Fernando Torres had given the Blues the lead in the 60th minute but Benfica pulled one back through Cardozo eight minutes later.
Ivanovic rose above everyone and sent a towering header into the goal to win the Europa League for Chelsea. After scoring the winning goal in the Europa League final, Ivanovic was photographed sitting on top of the goalpost with the Serbian flag tied around his waist during the title celebrations. The photographs have since become quite iconic.
#2 The goal against Napoli in the Champions League
Chelsea pulled off a dramatic comeback victory against Napoli in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League Round of 16. After losing the first leg 3-1 at the Napoli stadium, Chelsea won 4-1 at home to win 5-4 on aggregate.
Once again, it was Branislav Ivanovic who scored the all-important final goal that won the game for Chelsea. Ivanovic got to the end of a Didier Drogba low-cross and smashed the ball past the Napoli goalkeeper to win the tie for Chelsea.
#3. Headed goals against Liverpool in the 2008-09 Champions League
In the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final of the 2008-09 season between Chelsea and Liverpool, the latter went ahead through a Fernando Torres goal as early as the sixth minute.
But Branislav Ivanovic scored two thumping headers to give Chelsea the lead before Lampard added another one to finish the Merseysiders off. On both occasions, Liverpool found the Chelsea right-back difficult to mark thanks to his movement and he made them pay for it.
#4. The goal against Manchester City at Etihad in 2013-14 season
Branislav Ivanovic scored Chelsea’s lone goal in their win against Manchester City at the Etihad in the 2013-14 Premier League season. Ivanovic got on the end of a blocked shot and drove the ball home from outside the area with his left foot to give Chelsea the advantage.
It was drilled in so fast that the Manchester City goalkeeper stood no chance of saving.
#5. The goal against Reading in March 2012
In the 2011-12 season, Chelsea came from behind to register a 4-2 win against Reading. With the score of 3-2 in Chelsea’s favor, Reading committed everyone including their goalkeeper forward for a corner kick in the final minute.
Ivanovic headed the ball clear and then Torres shifted the ball out wide to Hazard. With the goalkeeper behind them and scampering to get back, Ivanovic bombed forward to help Hazard out and calmly slotted the ball home after being picked out by the Belgian.
Published 22 Feb 2021, 18:15 IST