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Mourinho Rues Missed Chances
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Jose Mourinho admitted that Chelsea had blown a chance to put the outcome of their Champions League semifinal clash with Liverpool beyond doubt after his side emerged with only a 1-0 lead to take into the second leg.

The Chelsea boss insisted however that he was confident of his side's ability to keep their bid for an unprecedented quadruple on track next Tuesday at Anfield after Joe Cole scored the only goal of the game here on Wednesday night.

"It is a positive result. It is a victory, we are in front and when the game starts in Liverpool, Chelsea are winning 1-0 so I think it is a positive result."

Mourinho suggested Chelsea might have had a penalty when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Alvaro Arbeloa at the start of the second half, though television images clearly showed it was outside the area.

"It is a handball for sure," Mourinho said. "That is no doubt. If he is inside the box it is a penalty, outside it is a free kick, but it was handball 100 percent."

That claim drew a predictably withering response from Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez. "I've not not seen the replay, but if he (Mourinho) said it was a penalty, I'm sure it was a penalty."

Such sniping adds to the edge of the encounters between these two clubs and Benitez was quick to point out that Liverpool had produced the 2-0 win they will require next week when Chelsea last visited Anfield, in the Premiership in February.

"We know playing at Anfield with our supporters behind us will be really good for us. Of course two goals is possible. We did it in the league and we can do it again, although we know they are really good on counter attack and need to be aware of that.

"I was disappointed with our first half. We were giving the ball away too easily. I don't think it was they were playing really well, it was just because we were giving them the possibility of going forward on the counter attack."

"But we showed in the second half that we can score against them and beat them which is the most important thing when thinking about the second leg."

Mourinho however played down the extent of Liverpool's second-half chances and it was true that Petr Cech had only one significant save to make, diving to his right to keep out Steven Gerrard's left-foot volley from the edge of the area.

"In the first half we did more than enough to score two, three four goals," Mourinho added. "Chelsea deserves the victory, no doubt about it. And in my opinion more than one goal would be fair, football is not about what is deserved, it is about what is and this is a 1-0 result.

"Liverpool are a strong side at home and they have that historical advantage of success in the Champions League over decades but we think we have a chance, a real chance."

Unlike Chelsea, who must beat Bolton on Saturday to keep their pursuit of Manchester United in the Premiership on track, Liverpool can afford to rest players against Portsmouth in their league fixture.

"Liverpool's next important game is against us while we have a final to play against Bolton. The power is not the same but we played very well as a team and the players have that dream and we go there to try and be in the final."

Drogba's well-established capacity for ruffling the composure of the Liverpool defence was underlined as early as the eighth minute, the Ivory Coast striker's knockdown from Ashley Cole's cross teeing up Frank Lampard, who directed his shot straight at Jose Reina.

Further chances went begging when Drogba failed to connect with Joe Cole's inviting cross, and Lampard sent a 25-yard free-kick fizzing inches wide.

The pressure finally told however after a move launched by the outstanding Ricardo Carvalho on the edge of his own area.

The Portuguese carried the ball out to the edge of the centre circle before spreading the ball wide to Drogba, who muscled past Daniel Agger and advanced into the area before pulling the ball back behind Jamie Carragher.

Cutting in from the opposite flank at pace, Joe Cole was able to get in front of Arbeloa and finish the move with the most straightforward of finishes from eight yards out.

Liverpool's tempo rose predictably in response but it was not until after the break that the visiting side began to pose a genuine threat to the Chelsea goal.

The half-time team talk appeared to have had a particularly invigorating impact on Gerrard, who sent one sidefooted shot narrowly over before forcing Cech into a fine save with a left-foot volley from the edge of the area.

In between those efforts, Dirk Kuyt had headed a Riise cross over and Carragher was equally wasteful when a Zenden corner found him unmarked at the back post.

But having been unsettled by Liverpool's introduction of Peter Crouch, Chelsea gradually rediscovered their composure and began to threaten again in the final quarter of an hour, when Reina produced good saves to deny both Drogba and Lampard.

(China Daily via AFP April 27, 2007)

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