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Barca pay the price for errors
Simon Baskett | March 09, 2005 19:45 IST
Barcelona blamed a combination of defensive mistakes, the malevolent influence of Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho and a refereeing error for their exit from the Champions League.
"It was a tough defeat to take," said Barca skipper Carles Puyol after Chelsea's 4-2 victory on Tuesday helped them secure a quarter-final place with a 5-4 aggregate victory.
"We had our chances to win the match, but it wasn't to be."
Leading 2-1 after the first round of the heavyweight clash at the Nou Camp, Barcelona were floored by three precision blows from their opponents in the opening 20 minutes to trail 4-2 on aggregate.
But the Catalans fought their way back into the game and FIFA's world player of the year Ronaldinho netted from the penalty spot before the half hour was out.
The Brazilian then put his side ahead on the away goals rule with a brilliant second, hypnotising the Chelsea defence with a samba swivel before beating keeper Petr Cech with a perfectly placed toe-poke.
Barca had chances to put the result beyond doubt before they paid the price for another defensive lapse, when the unmarked John Terry headed home from a corner 14 minutes from time.
Ronaldinho said that the goal should have been ruled out for a foul by Ricardo Carvalho on keeper Victor Valdes.
"The way I saw it there was a foul on Victor in Chelsea's fourth goal," said the Brazilian.
Barcelona players also railed against the off-the-field tactics employed by Chelsea boss Mourinho over the course of the two games.
"It was clear that Mourinho knew exactly how to go about creating tension around the match," said midfielder Gerard.
"We were too innocent ... and have to learn from their non-footballing tactics."
Mourinho, a former assistant to Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at Barcelona, was accused of underhand tactics ahead of the first leg by announcing that Damien Duff would not play and then fielding the Irish winger.
He also accused his opposite number Frank Rijkaard of trying to influence referee Anders Frisk in the tunnel during halftime at the Nou Camp. Mourinho also refused to give a post-match news conference in Spain.
"Mourinho is a disgrace," said Barca striker Samuel Eto'o. "But in the end everyone went along with his game. I bet he talked to the press this time."
The African player of the year, Barca's top scorer this season, said the disappointment would not undermine the morale of the team.
"We were the better side, but what counts in football are the goals," Eto'o said. "We fought hard and will be back in the Champions League next season. Now we have to concentrate on winning the Spanish league."