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Sweet victory for Mourinho

Clare Lovell | March 09, 2005 09:52 IST

Chelsea's Champions League victory over Barcelona tasted all the sweeter because people did not believe it would happen, manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday.

The Premier League leaders went through to the quarter-finals 5-4 on aggregate after a breathless 4-2 win on a night of captivating football at Stamford Bridge.

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"The most difficult part wasn't being down 2-1 after the first leg but proving to ourselves we could win it," Mourinho told reporters.

"I am happy to have beaten what the press called the best team in the world."

The Portuguese coach raced on to the pitch after the whistle with a more extravagant celebration than when he won the Champions League final with Porto last season, leaping into a melee of players and hugging them.

"The way the players believed in the first half and they way they believed after Barcelona were going through in the second half...the game was unbelievably emotional," he said.

Chelsea scored three times in the first 19 minutes but were pegged back before halftime by two Ronaldinho goals that would

have put the Catalans through had captain John Terry not nicked a winner in the 76th minute.

BREATHLESS GAME

"It was a game where you had no time to breathe, no time to enjoy the moment, you just had to work and react the best you could," Mourinho said. "The football was magnificent."

Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard said he always believed the team that won deserved victory, however hard defeat was to take.

"I always feel bitter after defeat, that's natural in football," he said.

"But I feel more bitter also because of the lies told during the home game and all that went on."

The Nou Camp tie finished in controversy with Chelsea officials accusing Rijkaard and his assistants of talking to the referee at halftime, implying they were trying to influence him.

Mourinho and Chelsea are under investigation by UEFA for coming out late for the second half at the Nou Camp and for failing to hold a post-match news conference.

A row also erupted on Tuesday at the final whistle when Chelsea scout Andre Villas and Rijkaard squared up on the touchline.

Rijkaard dismissed the incident as being in the heat of the moment.

"It was a great game. Someone came to the bench and insulted our team. I don't know who it was. People show their emotions sometimes. It was not serious," he shrugged.

Rijkaard put the Spanish leaders' defeat down to individual errors and a lack or maturity in midfield.

Barcelona players also disputed Terry's goal saying there had been a foul by Ricardo Carvalho on keeper Victor Valdes but Rijkaard was philosophical.

"In every game there is something that one or other team does not agree on," he said. "The players said there was a foul. We did not see it."


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