Drogba: 'Maybe he felt his team wasn't strong enough'

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The Independent Football

Didier Drogba last night drew inspiration from the criticism he faced from Rafael Benitez – that he was a cheat and a diver – and even pinned a photograph of the Liverpool manager above his peg in the home dressing room at Stamford Bridge. "Maybe he felt his team wasn't strong enough," Drogba said of why he had been singled out by Benitez.

The Spaniard defended his attack on Drogba and refused to agree that it had helped the striker. "More motivation than to play a final?" Benitez said. "I don't think so. After the match it's easy to talk. I just wanted a level-playing field." He felt his own players had done enough to reach Moscow and revealed that Fernando Torres had been withdrawn because of a hamstring injury.

Chelsea manager Avram Grant declared he had "created history" by reaching the European Cup final in his first season in charge. "With all the difficulties we have had it means a lot to me, I'm proud," he said. "Rafa is a great manager, great tactics. It was very difficult for me tactically to play against him. I understand now why we lost to them in semi-finals and this year they are a better team. So to beat them has made me more proud."

Grant spoke of the pressure he has been under. "From day one that I am here there have been so many microscopes on me," he said. "I'm not against the media, I understand in the beginning the criticism. I needed to prove more than others that my team knows how to play football and handle difficult days. We created history today and we still fight for the championship."