Wednesday 09 April 2014
Manager Jose Mourinho praised the character of his side after Chelsea overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. "The team that played with their heart deserved to go through," he said.
"It was very much deserved that the team that tried to defend was punished. The team that played with their heart deserved to go through"
The Blues were three minutes away from exiting the competition, after Andre Schurrle's first-half strike had reduced the aggregate arrears, leaving them in need of one more unanswered goal to progress on away goals, and after Schurrle and Oscar both hit the bar, it seemed as though PSG might cling on.
But as Chelsea threw caution to the wind a hopeful shot from Cesar Azpilicueta deflected into the path of Demba Ba who flipped the ball in from close range and spark frenzied celebrations at Stamford Bridge.
This was the second time in three years that the Blues had overturned a 3-1 first-leg away defeat in the knockout stages of the competition, the last coming against Napoli in 2012 when they went on to win the competition.
PSG's Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi had both been in that Napoli side and had been adamant beforehand that history would not repeat itself. Cavani might have ended the tie late on as the Ligue 1 outfit looked to catch the Blues out on the counter attack, yet fired over after being put through by Yohan Cabaye's pinpoint through-ball. It was the visitors' best chance of the night.
Chelsea were worthy winners, though, having had to react to the early setback of losing Eden Hazard to a calf injury that is expected to keep him out for at least two weeks. His replacement Schurrle took full advantage of his opportunity, creeping unmarked into the area on 32 minutes to place a shot past Salvatore Sirigu after Branislav Ivanovic's long throw had been helped on by David Luiz.
The Blues had already come close to taking the lead when Frank Lampard's deflected free-kick brought the best out of Sirigu, and in the second half were unlucky to see Schurrle's first-time shot from a Willian cutback crash back off the bar. An Oscar free-kick two minutes later found the same spot of the goalframe.
But spurred on by an animated home crowd Chelsea found the all-important second goal as Ba reacted first to Azpilicueta's errant shot. There was still time for Laurent Blanc's charges to attempt a sucker punch but Petr Cech denied Marquinhos' with a smart save at his near post, and Chelsea held on to reach the semi-finals.
"I think we did enough at beginning of the second-half to score before we did," said Mourinho, who raced sown the touchline after Ba's goal to pass on instructions to his celebrating players. "The contradiction of what [PSG] are and what they wanted to do. In the second-half it was pure ball possession. But it was difficult for us to penetrate. We did it in training yesterday, with three different systems, all of which we used. The players knew what they had to do. Demba Ba made a crucial finish for us.
"It was very much deserved that the team that tried to defend was punished. The team that played with their heart deserved to go through."
As for Friday's draw, Mourinho is prepared to take on all comers, given the character of his players.
"Anything can happen," he said. "A big opponent is waiting for us in the semi-final, but I think it doesn't matter who. They know we are a team with a special spirit, even if we are not in the maximum of our potential."
Wayne Rooney is expected to start against Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening as Manchester United attempt to follow Chelsea's lead by upsetting the odds to reach the last four of the Champions League.
"Wayne is determined to play and if he is determined we would be mad not to"
Rooney did not feature in Man United's 4-0 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday after suffering a toe injury during the 1-1 draw with Bayern in the first leg at old Trafford. However, manager David Moyes has said that Rooney will take a pain-killing injection in order to face the defending European club champions.
"Wayne is determined to play and if he is determined we would be mad not to [play him]," said Moyes. "He is able to train and is massively keen to be involved. He is happy to take an injection, which shows you his feeling for the game and the club and we need him as well."
Moyes added that he would like his side to enjoy more possession than they did in the first leg when Nemanja Vidic's header was cancelled out by Bastian Schweinsteiger's equaliser, and he is expecting United to turn in a strong performance at the Allianz ArenA.
"I'd like to have more possession and have a bigger effect on the game," he said. "The quality of the opponent is great. I expect us to play better than in the first leg - and I believe we can. To get through, we'll have to. My focus is on getting through. The players are ready and focused. We're relishing it.
"We'll need a good performance from everybody. We can't have any passengers. All my players are well prepared. We did all we can to prepare properly for this game. We will have to win this 'final' to get to the next stage. It is like a cup final, even if it is just the second leg."
Moyes will be without striker Robin van Persie, who has a knee injury, playmaker Juan Mata, who is ineligible, while there are doubts over full-back Rafael and midfielder Marouane Fellaini, neither of whom trained on Tuesday, and Jonny Evans, who made an appearance for the Under-21s on Monday. However, Ashley Young is available for selection despite suffering torn ligaments in his hand on Saturday.
For Bayern the loss of midfielders Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez to suspension represent two significant blows, while Thiago Alcantara is also expected to be missing with a knee complaint until the end of April. Diego Contento suffered a foot injury before the first leg while Xherdan Shaqiri went off at half-time in Augsburg with a torn muscle in his right thigh.
Tuesday 8 April
Chelsea (Schurrle, Ba) 2-0 (agg. 3-3) Paris Saint-Germain
(Chelsea through on away goals)
Borussia Dortmund (Reus 2) 2-0 (agg 2-3) Real Madrid
Wednesday 9 April
Bayern Munich v Manchester United
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
The draw for the semi-finals and final takes place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon at 11am on Friday 11 April.