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11 Apr 2007 07:24
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho saluted his side’s second-half fightback after they came from a goal down to beat Valencia 2-1 and claim a place in the semifinals of the Champions League on Tuesday.
“I think it was a great performance in the second half against a good team and in a difficult stadium and when we were losing 1-0,” Mourinho told a news conference after Chelsea’s 3-2 aggregate quarterfinal victory.
“At half time we were out, but in the second half we were amazing, very dominant and there was only one team in it.”
Chelsea were hustled out of the second leg game for much of the first half and Valencia took a deserved lead when Fernando Morientes slid the ball into the net 13 minutes before the break, but they came out firing on all cylinders in the second.
They levelled the tie seven minutes after the break when Andriy Shevchenko fired in at the near post and Michael Essien settled it in the final minute when he popped up in the area and blasted a shot past keeper Santiago Canizares.
“At halftime I told them to be strong mentally to resist the pressure of losing and being out of the Champions League,” said Mourinho.
“I was thinking it was unfair that we had not won in the 90 minutes especially as Canizares made two great saves, and I was telling them to get the drinks ready for extra time when I saw the ball in the net.
“Then I knew the game was over. It happened to me with Porto when we scored at Old Trafford in the last minute and it is like a golden goal.
It was a great emotion.”
With Manchester United destroying AS Roma 7-1 to march into the semifinals and Liverpool enjoying a 3-0 advantage over PSV Eindhoven after the first leg of their tie, three English teams are almost certain to line up in the final four.
“Every Chelsea fan, every English fan should be proud of this with three teams in the semifinals of the Champions League,” said the Portuguese.
If Liverpool hold on to their lead on Wednesday they will be Chelsea’s next opponents in a rematch of the 2005 semifinal which the Merseysiders edged 1-0, and although Mourinho insisted it was not a grudge match he could not resist a dig at his likely rivals.
“Revenge is not a word for me in life and even less in football,” he said. “It’s a tie where we know that we start behind because Liverpool are only playing for the Champions League and Chelsea are playing for the Champions League, the [Premier] League and the FA Cup.”
Mourinho also left a timely reminder to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the wake of the speculation about his future at the club.
“I want to stay in England and I want to stay at Chelsea, but sometimes the things you want in life don’t happen,” he said. - Reuters
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