Cech silences Nou Camp

Chelsea hold Barcelona to raise hopes of a second Champions League final
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The Independent Football

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink last night hailed keeper Petr Cech for the Nou Camp clean sheet that sends his side into next week's semi-final second leg as favourites to reach their second consecutive Champions League final.

Cech pulled off four superb saves in the 0-0 draw as Chelsea became the first team this season to prevent Barcelona from scoring at home. "He saved the game for us," said Hiddink. "He did his job very well and Bosingwa also did a very good job with help from Malouda down the left-hand side.

"We are pleased with the result. When you look at the recent history of Barcelona, what their results have been and particularly here, I think this is the first time they've not scored in a home game. So it's quite an achievement against a beautiful team who can play beautiful football."

Chelsea shut out Leo Messi and now have home advantage against a side that play their biggest league game of the season against Real Madrid just three days ahead of the second leg and know they will be without two central defenders when the visit London in seven days.

Rafa Marquez is ruled out after injuring knee ligaments in the second half and Carles Puyol – who would have replaced him – is suspended. Chelsea centre-half and captain John Terry was another who Hiddink (below) picked out.

He said: "When Messi went inside, Bosingwa got good support from John Terry in the centre. They managed to keep him very much in check. I don't know whether it was pressure, but Messi was rather well neutralised, tactically, tonight.

"We needed to be very courageous, but you need to play with intelligence, too. You can't get a result against Barcelona just with courage alone. In that respect, Terry was inspiring and was an example to the rest of the team, who responded in a very good way.

"We have to play better in possession, but that's also down to the opponents we were up against. But, mentally, this team has a lot of courage and a lot of blood that they want to sacrifice. Mentally, we're a very tough team."

Chelsea became only the fourth side this season to shut out a Barça attack that has scored 140 goals in all competitions. Hiddink said: "We managed to be very disciplined, although I think we didn't keep the possession well enough in the first half.

"We kicked too many balls away and that offered our opponents too many opportunities to make attacks. We did better in the second half, but it is compliments to the team to play in very difficult circumstances, as we have done and to come up with this result.

"These days there is no big advantage home or away, so nothing's decided. But it's a good result against a very good team."

Terry added: "We stayed very tight. We watched videos before the game; they like to play little balls through and we knew that and stopped them. It's a fantastic result and we go back to the Bridge ready to go again. We'll have home advantage so hopefully we can make the most of that."

Pep Guardiola criticised referee Wolfgang Stark and Chelsea's defensive approach to the game.

"Only one team was trying to play attacking football," he said. "The referee should have taken that into account. We weren't out there shoving players or making poor challenges. Michael Ballack might have been sent off, but in the end the referee just booked Yaya Touré for dissent. Ballack played in an aggressive way, but we are a clean team.

"The referee didn't have his best night. It's not acceptable for a Champions League semi-final. We committed seven fouls and Chelsea committed 20, and yet we both ended up with the same number of bookings. This is not a happy story."

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