Mourinho 'kicked' in tunnel row as Chelsea are Frisked

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The Independent Football

His return to Barcelona has been heavy with controversy and last night Jose Mourinho was back in the middle of a row between Chelsea and his former club after the Premiership leaders had victory snatched away from them by Didier Drogba's sending-off.

His return to Barcelona has been heavy with controversy and last night Jose Mourinho was back in the middle of a row between Chelsea and his former club after the Premiership leaders had victory snatched away from them by Didier Drogba's sending-off.

Mourinho refused to talk after the match but his club have sent an official complaint to Uefa about Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard talking to referee Anders Frisk in the tunnel at half-time. There was also an alleged half-time scuffle between the clubs' back-room staff and, amid the confusion, the Chelsea manager himself was alleged to have been kicked in the back.

Mourinho may be one of English football's least predictable characters, but silence in the face of controversy is hardly one of his stock responses.

With his side leading at half-time through Juliano Belletti's own goal, Drogba's sending-off changed the game and allowed Barcelona to dominate a 10-man Chelsea side whose strategy of containment had worked perfectly until the red card after 55 minutes. It is understood that the scuffle broke out when Mourinho's back-room staff attempted to intervene as Rijkaard talked to Frisk but the Dutchman serenely said "nothing took place", although he then conceded he had spoken to the Swedish official and that the Chelsea contingent had "reacted" to him approaching the referee.

"The reaction of the Chelsea side was a little bit exaggerated but I am saying calmly that nothing happened," said Rijkaard who denied that Frisk had been in the Barcelona dressing-room at half-time. "We didn't start anything. I just talked with the referee. It wasn't aggressive and the conversation was normal. Maybe Chelsea want to start something but I don't really understand it."

"They are creating something that didn't happen," he added. "Now we have rumours that the referee was in our dressing room and it is simply not true."

Witnesses in the tunnel claimed that as the teams were going out after half-time Mourinho shouted at Frisk "you can't do this ­ I will report you to Uefa." The scuffle between the back-room staff was understood to have centred upon Mourinho's Portuguese coach, Silvinho Louro, and Rijkaard's assistant, Henk Ten Cate. It was during this dispute that Mourinho was alleged to have been kicked.

For Mourinho defeat was not simply the ruin of a brilliantly hatched strategy, but, after the loss to Newcastle on Sunday, the first time in his coaching career that he has lost two consecutive matches. The club's director of communications, Simon Greenberg, read a short club statement which said Chelsea would be complaining to Uefa and the team departed Barcelona.

The night's first surprise was that Mourinho had not been telling the truth about Damien Duff's injury and the Irishman was included in the line-up. After his bravado in the pre-match press conference in naming his line-up this piece of Mourinho misinformation ­ volunteered, not sought ­ lacked the style and finesse of his previous successes in gaining the upper hand. "He [Duff] has recovered," Mourinho said before the match, "the medical department have done a good job and we risk."

There was nothing at all risky about Chelsea's approach to containing Barcelona in the game's early stages. Frank Lampard patrolled Xavi, Claude Makelele barely strayed out of his own half and, after a few early scares, the Nou Camp, as Mourinho had predicted, began to quieten. But not before Ronaldinho had squeezed a shot wide.

Mourinho's players were right to be outraged at a flagrant dive by Deco when he ran at Tiago on 29 minutes, but by then the influence of Barcelona's playmaker was waning. Chelsea's goal on 33 minutes may not have reflected the game's territorial possession at that point, but it certainly suggested that Mourinho's side's strategy was proving infinitely more successful than their opponent's.

A swing of Lampard's right foot, the hint of back-spin on the ball, and his pass fell perfectly into the stride of Duff down the right wing. Joe Cole headed into the box in anticipation of the cross but before it reached him, Belletti stumbled across to deflect in a seemingly disastrous own goal.

Drogba missed with a shot after being sent clear before half-time and, for 10 minutes after the break, Chelsea looked supremely confident. Then, catastrophe. Duff broke down the right and crossed to the back post where Belletti guided the ball gently back to his goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Too gently, it transpired as Drogba charged in with his studs raised to get a touch on the ball before the Barcelona goalkeeper grasped it.

Drogba until then had been an awkward, threatening presence alone up front for Chelsea and he had been booked for a challenge on Rafael Marquez in the first half. His challenge on Valdes was a touch over-exuberant but it was not worthy of the booking that saw the striker dismissed for a second yellow card. From that moment on Chelsea's grip on the game loosened by the minute.

On 67 minutes Samuel Eto'o picked the ball up in the area and flicked a pass out to substitute Maxi Lopez who drove his shot first time past Cech. The Nou Camp awakened and Chelsea's cohesion disintegrated. The home side's second goal came on 73 minutes when Lopez angled a ball from the wing into the area and Eto'o burst through between Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho and guided his shot inside Cech's right post.

Chelsea were hanging on grimly and John Terry had to throw himself in front of shots from Deco and Giovanni van Bronckhorst. Winning the tie at Stamford Bridge without Drogba will rank as Mourinho's greatest Chelsea triumph yet.

Barcelona (4-1-2-3): Valdes; Belletti (Gerard, 63), Puyol, Marquez, Van Bronckhorst; Albertini (Iniesta, 56); Deco, Xavi; Giuly (Lopez, 63), Eto'o, Ronaldinho. Substitutes not used: Jorquera (gk), Silvinho, Navarro, Abella Perez.

Chelsea (4-5-1): Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Gallas; Cole (Johnson, 69), Tiago (Smertin, 90), Makelele, Lampard, Duff (Gudjohnsen, 75); Drogba. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Kezman, Geremi, Nuno Morais.

Referee: A Frisk (Sweden).



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