'We have left a message that we are strong'

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, felt that his side's victory over Manchester United last night achieved far more than simply earning them a place in the League Cup final.

Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, felt that his side's victory over Manchester United last night achieved far more than simply earning them a place in the League Cup final.

"It was important for us," Mourinho said, "not because we got into a final, but also the way we played, the mentality, the strength we showed here was a message to the Premiership.

"It is still difficult [to win the league], we still have to win 11 matches to be champions but we have left a message here that we are really strong and the boys are magnificent. I was ready to lose the game and leave Old Trafford with a smile just to pass a message of confidence. But my team would never lose their confidence or mentality just because of a defeat here."

Mourinho warned that success in four competitions would be a monumental task, however. "We can win four, we can lose four, we can win one or two," he said. "To win the four is very, very difficult but it is still possible. There is a long way to do it but if you could give me the Premiership [title] I would be very happy."

Mourinho, who celebrated his 42nd birthday yesterday, added: "If you can finish your day with such an important victory it is the perfect day. The plan was just to win the game and be in the final but we knew, with the opponent and the atmosphere, that a semi-final is always difficult and we were ready for anything."

Sir Alex Ferguson lost his 18-year record of never losing a semi-final but he was more displeased about the defending for Duff's winning goal. "You would think it would happen some time but this is the lesser of the tournaments you would want to get knocked out of," he said.

"We're not happy about the free-kick from 50 yards out - you can't expect to win losing goals like that. We played exceptionally well in the second half. It was a great game, you couldn't divide the teams today.

"They are a threat on the counter-attack but we coped with that quite well and I thought we had the far bigger momentum in the second half. Their goalkeeper made a fantastic save from Ronaldo and we had one cleared off the line."

Frank Lampard, Chelsea's first goalscorer, warned his side not to get carried away. "We haven't won anything yet but we are going the right way about it," he said. "It will give us a confidence boost and we will go after the other [trophies]."

His team-mate John Terry agreed, saying: "None of us have won anything and hopefully this is our year and we can start with this Cup and build on it."

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