Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic refuses to dwell on missing Champions League final

 

Branislav Ivanovic has refused to dwell on his Champions League final heartache as he backed Chelsea's suspension-ravaged squad to secure European glory.

Ivanovic was today still coming to terms with the needless booking which ruled him out of the Munich showpiece against Bayern Munich.

Unlike fellow yellow card victims Ramires and Raul Meireles, Ivanovic had been blissfully unaware he was walking a disciplinary tightrope going into Tuesday night's semi-final second leg at Barcelona.

Getting cautioned for dissent after Barca were awarded a second-half penalty will doubtless haunt the defender for the rest of his life.

But he put a brave face on following what must have been a bittersweet victory on what one of the most astonishing nights in European football history.

"The Champions League and football is like life," said Ivanovic, who is also in the midst of a three-match domestic ban for striking Wigan's Shaun Maloney.

"You cannot look back. You have to look forward.

"I think we have great players and a good squad. That's why we are in the final and we have to play like a group, and we have to believe.

"Not a lot of guys believe in us, but we believe."

Confirming he had no idea he had been one yellow card away from suspension, the defender said of the referee's decision to punish him: "I didn't expect him to book me for that and I didn't know I was in the danger zone."

He added: "I feel happy because the team goes to the final.

"We deserved it at the end of the day, with some luck.

"With a little bit of luck, we did some great defending."

Ivanovic was heroic at the heart of a defence in which he found himself the only recognised centre-back after Gary Cahill went off injured and captain John Terry was sent off, ending his own final dream.

He said: "We lost two central defenders but I think we did a great, great defending job and we deserved it."

Chelsea's amazing rearguard action was masterminded by caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, who has surely put himself in the frame to succeed the sacked Andre Villas-Boas on a permanent basis.

Ivanovic said: "He's changed everything.

"He gave us support, he gave us trust, and I think he's great.

"We have a great relationship and the results are good for us.

"At the moment, we don't want to look forward too much.

"We are not finished yet, we are not safe in the league for the Champions League place.

"We want this still, we are in the final of the FA Cup.

"So, there are a lot of things to do.

"We've got a big squad and we'll try to do everything."

PA

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