Rijkaard: 'I wanted to thank the referee for participating'

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The Independent Online

Pride in their own performance, but anger at that of the referee's, were the main focus of Chelsea's thoughts after last night's draw.

Frank Lampard said the display of Stefano Farina was "funny" and both he and Jose Mourinho felt the Italian official had denied Chelsea two penalties.

However, the Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard was furious with Farina and stormed on to the pitch after the final whistle to confront the official.

Mourinho also spoke scornfully of Barcelona players play-acting, a contempt which might be regarded as a bit rich given the behaviour of his Porto team.

"I think Frank [Rijkaard] is a lucky guy," Mourinho said of the Barcelona coach. "The stars he has and the way they are protected, match after match you cannot touch them - he is a lucky manager. I would like to be in that position. Not coaching Barcelona because I love to coach Chelsea, but in that position. I do not want to complain. It is not easy to be a referee when the players are minute after minute diving. But it looks like two penalties in our favour. I give the referee the doubt because I did not see them on TV, and the referee didn't see on TV."

Lampard said: "The referee had a funny game. We were battling against the odds. We could have had two penalties. Lots of decisions went against us. But we kept going and going."

Didier Drogba paid tribute to Lampard: "There has been a lot of [criticism of] Frank," he said. "It is not fair. I think he showed his quality today. He is one of the best midfield players in the world."

Rijkaard had to be pulled away from Farina by his captain, Carles Puyol, and spat angrily at the turf. He was unhappy because the referee advertised six minutes of stoppage time to be added on and then blew for time after only five.

Rijkaard said: "He blew up one minute before he should have done but I'm not blaming that for the result. It was a battle on the pitch and it was very interesting during the game and I went on because I wanted to thank the referee for his participation."

Puyol said that the responsibility for the play-acting was Chelsea's and accused Mourinho's side of using pure aggression to break down the European champions. He said: "It was them who did it [play-acting] first. If you watch it on television you will see that clearly.

"I think you will find it was Drogba throwing himself on the floor, I don't know if they were looking for cards but we certainly weren't and I don't care what Mourinho says. Chelsea are an aggressive team and it is logical that they come here to play aggressively against us. They come from a league much harder than ours.

"There is much more contact in England and it is up to the referee to deal with it. There are different ways of playing football and these are two different football cultures. That's not to say they don't deserve some credit for playing the way that they do.

"They are a team of great players and I hope we get the chance to play them again later in the competition," Puyol added.

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