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Mourinho praises Chelsea's strength
Simon Baskett | November 01, 2006 15:21 IST
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho heaped praise on his team after their last-gasp 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp saying that their mental and physical strength had helped them claim a point against the European champions.
"The performance was brilliant," the Portuguese coach told a news conference. "The team played very well, they were very strong physically and very strong mentally. Tactically we were always in control against a very strong team.
"We had a lot of chances to score...there was no doubt we deserved the goal and maybe a bit more.
"This is the most difficult group in the Champions League. It is the most difficult because there are three great teams in the group," he added, in reference to Werder Bremen, who moved above Barcelona in the standings after their 3-0 win at Levski Sofia.
Chelsea twice came from behind in a fast and furious encounter to earn a point that kept them in the driving seat in Group A with 10, three ahead of Werder and five clear of Barca.
Didier Drogba fired home under Victor Valdes three minutes into stoppage time after former Chelsea player Eidur Gudjohnsen had put Barca 2-1 up early in the second half.
Asked whether the result made him believe that Chelsea could go on to win the competition, Mourinho replied: "I'm very hopeful and confident but there are six or seven other teams who are in the same situation."
The Portuguese coach complained that his players had received six yellow cards including midfielder Frank Lampard, who will now miss his side's next game against Werder Bremen.
"I don't think it was an aggressive game but there were lots of cards because people tried to provoke them," he said.
"It wasn't easy for the referee to be under such pressure being surrounded by seven or eight players and with players rolling around on the pitch. It was both sides but one side did more of it than the other."
Opposite number Frank Rijkaard disagreed, saying that the constant stoppages because of fouls, 29 of which were awarded against Chelsea, had ended up favouring the visitors whose late equaliser came three minutes into added time.
"I never talk about the referees but one team was kicking the other team and wasting time," said the Dutchman, who was furious at full time and had to be restrained by his players.
"Those extra six minutes worked very well for Chelsea. They committed most of the fouls and wasted the time but got the benefit."
Despite the disappointment of seeing his side surrender the lead at the death, Rijkaard remained upbeat about their performance.
"We came very close to winning the game and the team fought very hard against a Chelsea team who pushed us hard all the way.
"We started well, dominated and got the goal, but they worked very hard physically and had several good chances. I don't say we dominated the whole game but we deserved to go ahead."
Barca now have little margin for error in their final two games against Levski and Werder.
"It's an interesting situation," he said. "We have just got to do it and try our best."
UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage