'That special spirit is part of the DNA of these Chelsea players', says Roberto di Matteo

 

The Nou Camp

Roberto di Matteo, the Chelsea interim manager, last night hailed the never-say-die spirit of his players that took them past Barcelona and into their second Champions League final in five seasons.

After a night on which John Terry was sent off, and will miss the final through suspension, a fate that also befell Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and goalscorer Ramires – all booked for a second time – Di Matteo said: "We always seem to get something special out of them when we need to. I think that's part of the DNA of these players.

"They [Barcelona] are the best team in the world. They're amazing. But the way we played and the way we defended – we just showed a lot of desire to reach the final and go through. We had a little bit of luck as well. But to win the trophy, you need that."

Terry apologised after the game for his red card for a needless knee in the back of Alexis Sanchez. Di Matteo said: "He [Terry] is obviously very sad and disappointed that he got sent off tonight. But we're all delighted that Chelsea Football Club and all the players involved on the bench here, and those not on the bench, are going to be in the final.

"We are all human beings. We're put under pressure every three days. This was our fourth game in nine days, and everybody can make a mistake. We work as a group and we're delighted we've gone through."

Terry said: "I have apologised to the lads and I apologise to the Chelsea fans. I was trying to protect myself but looking at it on the replay it does look like a red card. I hope this doesn't take anything away from what the boys have achieved." His central defensive partner Gary Cahill, who went off with a hamstring injury, said later last night that he believes he will make the final.

Chelsea may yet have to win the game against Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid or Bayern Munich to play in the competition again next season but that was the last thing on Di Matteo's mind.

"I'm just delighted for the players. They put so much effort into this. We seemed always to find some reserves from somewhere, playing against the odds. We weren't the favourites, even after that first leg. We had all the difficulties you could imagine, particularly with the way Barcelona play, but we still managed to qualify. It's quite incredible."

Barcelona cursed their luck. Coach Pep Guardiola said: "We did everything we could, but we didn't score. Football is like this sometimes. It wasn't our year, our turn. Other years, we've won everything." He admitted that the defeat will be hard to take for his players, especially Lionel Messi whose second-half penalty miss was crucial. "My admiration for Messi knows no limits. I've no doubt he'll experience a few bad hours now because we know how competitive he is."

For Di Matteo there was no sympathy for Barcelona. "When you go through, when you win – and we haven't lost over two legs against Barça – you deserve to be in the final."

Last-minute goalscorer Fernando Torres said: "We have had a bad season in the Premier League but it could end up as a memorable year. We will miss a lot of players in the final but the important thing is to continue like this and believe we will triumph."

Just like 1975: how Leeds did it first

Leeds United in 1975 reached the European Cup final despite having their centre-half, Gordon McQueen, sent off midway through the second half against Barcelona, who were huge favourites, with Johan Cruyff et al, in the Nou Camp. Leeds had won 2-1 at Elland Road, then drew 1-1 in Catalonia... but lost to Bayern Munich in the final.

Phil Shaw

Missing in action: Chelsea players set to sit out final

Out: John Terry Sent off for violent conduct, 37 min

Out: Ramires Booked for dissent, 45 min

Out: Branislav Ivanovic Booked for dissent, 49 min

Out: Raul Meireles Booked for unsporting behaviour, 89 min

Doubt: Gary Cahill Went off with hamstring injury, 12 min

Doubt: David Luiz Hamstring injury suffered v Spurs, 15 April

 

Torres sets seal on the miracle of Barcelona

Di Matteo's men park the yacht with Messi left all at sea

Man for man marking: Barcelona v Chelsea

James Lawton: After Terry atrocity, Chelsea heroes produce performance of their lives

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week