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
"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)