Race storm blights Chelsea's classic conquest of Barcelona

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The Independent Online

After the beautiful game, the ugly reaction. Chelsea knocked Barcelona out of the Champions' League last night in an exhilarating tie at Stamford Bridge to progress into the last eight of the competition.

After the beautiful game, the ugly reaction. Chelsea knocked Barcelona out of the Champions' League last night in an exhilarating tie at Stamford Bridge to progress into the last eight of the competition.

But the wild celebrations were marred by a violent clash between the Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard and one of the Chelsea coaches, Andre Villas Boas, while the Spanish players also alleged that the striker Samuel Eto'o had been racially abused by a steward. As he walked around the pitch, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich also had bottles hurled at him by Barcelona fans.

The incidents, on the final whistle, served to overshadow an astonishing encounter in which Chelsea raced into a three-goal lead inside 20 minutes, only to be hauled back. A late headed John Terry goal won the tie 4-2 and took his side through 5-4 on aggregate. The bitter recriminations afterwards followed on from the bad blood after the first meeting at the Nou Camp and the tense, often vituperative build-up to the match.

Rijkaard and his players - Ronaldinho, Carlos Puyol and Oleguer - had to be forced down the tunnel by stewards as they tried to confront Chelsea's coaching staff. On the pitch, the Chelsea players celebrated wildly while Barcelona fans accused the victorious manager Jose Mourinho, whose own celebrations verged on the manic, of making gestures. It was chaotic and will surely result in further investigation by Uefa, which has already intervened following Mourinho's comments after the first leg and his failure to turn up for the post-match press conference on that occasion.

Mourinho appeared last night only to brush over the incidents. He said he had "no idea" if there had been any confrontations. "You saw what we did," he said. "We went on the pitch and enjoyed the moment. Coaches, medical department, players not used." The row was, however, in full view of the referee Pierluigi Collina, as it prevented him walking down the tunnel.

Afterwards, Eto'o - ironically, a one-time transfer target for Chelsea - claimed: "One of the stewards called me a monkey. Just look at the coach. He is not respectable and that is the mentality of this football club."

Eto'o, in turn, was accused of spitting. Puyol, his team-mate, added: "Yes, there were a few problems. The other players told me that the security guards had insulted Eto'o and called him a monkey and that's when the problems started."

Rijkaard said of the incident involving Villas Boas: "Someone came forward and insulted our bench. I feel bitter because we did not succeed and because it was a great opportunity for us to make a statement. Maybe I also feel bitter because of all the lies told before the game. While all that stuff that has surrounded the game went on it makes you want to win that bit more."

Mourinho also had extra incentive, but said that if Chelsea had not been victorious he would have wanted Barcelona to win the European Cup. He said the result was "fantastic", adding: "We faced a very good team, as you know."

Nevertheless, he could not resist a swipe, saying: "We have beaten the best team in the world at the moment, according to the press." It was, Mourinho added, an "emotional" encounter. "The way the players showed a lot of belief at the beginning of the game and in the second half despite Barcelona's recovery was fantastic," he said.

"We scored four goals but we could have scored seven. They scored twice but could have scored five. The game was magnificent." He said his exuberant celebrations had been because "it was a game until the last seconds". Mourinho added: "The reality is that we scored five in two matches and they scored four. It shows the difference between the two teams. It was 180 minutes and at the end the best team went through."

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