In a further confirmation of his sudden status at Chelsea, Didier Drogba said that his match-winning goal here last night was a moment that was two years in the making. That was in reference to the dismissal the Ivorian striker suffered against Barcelona in the first instalment of their Champions' League saga at the Nou Camp in 2005.
Drogba subsequently missed the return leg and then found himself among the substitutes in the first leg last season as Barça knocked Chelsea out of the competition on their way to winning the trophy. But Drogba's 46th-minute strike last night was his ninth goal this season and his fourth in Europe.
"I'm not Superman but what I need to do is to keep trying to score when my team needs it," Drogba said. He dedicated the victory to the injured goalkeepers, Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini, but also to Victoria Buchanan, who worked for the Chelsea Pitch Owners Association but was killed on Tuesday when her bicycle collided with a lorry on her way to work.
Ms Buchanan was just 28 and had been due to get married next year. "It's a difficult moment and difficult to say," Drogba said. "But Chelsea is a big family and we dedicate the victory to Petr, Carlo and to the girl."
Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho, who took another swipe at Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt in his programme notes saying Cech had been up against a "hunter" last weekend, acknowledged it had been a "difficult week". But he said he had no intention of going "crazy" at the result which means Chelsea take control of Group A. "The objective when we saw such a difficult group was to qualify and now it is to be first," he said. "We have a five-point advantage."
He brushed off criticisms of Andrei Shevchenko who again disappointed, especially when compared to Drogba. "They both won the game as well as the other nine players on the pitch," Mourinho said. "Chelsea beat Barcelona and Didier scored, yes, and maybe in March Sheva is scoring and Didier isn't. The team needs individuals, but the team is more important."
Mourinho acknowledged that he would rest Shevchenko in one of the upcoming League games but only as part of a "rotation". He also praised the stand-in goalkeeper Hilario who, he said, gave "security" despite some shaky moments, and dismissed speculation linking Chelsea to the out-of-contract Fabien Barthez while Cech is absent.
"What I know is that we have 50 agents calling us and, if they call us, they call the press," he said. "Fabien Barthez is a name and there are lots of names in the air. What I know is that Carlo and Hilario are good keepers," added, "and probably what we have to try and get is a third goalkeeper and, of course, Fabien is not a third goalkeeper."
The Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, conceded that Chelsea were worthy of the victory. "It was a tight, close game and Drogba changed all that," Rijkaard said. However, he added: "Chelsea deserved the victory, but I think that maybe they were a bit more unpredictable, a bit quicker on the break last year. Now they are more deliberate and that's why we are annoyed."
Rijkaard said he was not concerned about Barça's chances of qualifying from the group, even though Werder Bremen are level on points with them. "We have still got plenty of games left and have to be confident we can get the right result to progress in the Champions' League," he said. Last year we lost games. It's the thing you have to cope with and we were playing against a strong team."Reuse content