Another night of high drama for Chelsea fans, but just another day at the office for Jose Mourinho.
That was the impression the Portuguese gave after Demba Ba's late goal secured Chelsea a 2-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain tonight, securing victory in the quarter-final tie on away goals, and the prize of a place in the last four of the Champions League once again.
“It's a good victory, but so many semi-finals for me, so many semi-finals for Chelsea. Nothing extraordinary. It is good, because we lost [the first-leg] 3-1 and to change that result is always difficult. But the players are not jumping in the dressing room. No. Just two minutes and done.”
He was, nevertheless, full of pride at Chelsea's performance. “If for some reason we hadn't scored the second, or if they had scored from the last corner in the last moment to send us out, everybody in this club would still have been proud of the boys.”
The man who manages a team who won the Champions League two years ago, have spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the last decade, and are regular semi-finalists, added as if he was the manager of a non-League club through to the third round of the FA Cup: “A big opponent is waiting for us in the semi-final, but I think it doesn't matter who. They know we are a team with a special spirit, even if we are not in the maximum of our potential. We are going to enjoy it the same way I told the players we had to enjoy this [match]. We have to enjoy to play against the great opponent waiting for us.”
The nature of the victory, said Mourinho, was all planned. “The players followed our plan, our ambition. We trained yesterday the three systems we used – the one from the start, the one without Lampard, and finally the one with Demba and Nando [Torres]. So the players knew what to do.”
Indeed they did.“At half time [Mourinho] told us to keep the pressure on and if it stayed at 1-0 then we would change the way we played, to be more direct and get closer to the penalty area,” said Ba.
Of the match-winner Mourinho said: “I'm happy for him. A good guy, a good professional, a good group man. He started giving Paris problems that they don't have in their league where it's a completely different style of approach. I'm so happy he scored the goal because it means a lot for him and a lot for us.”
As for the dash down the touchline to where the players were celebrating at Ba's goal, he was not, he insisted, joining in. "It was to tell the players how we had to play the last 10 minutes. I knew at that moment they wanted to celebrate, to think the game is over. They forget that they had three plus three or four other minutes [added time] to play, and the way we were playing it was too risky. I wanted Demba to play in front of the defenders, and Nando to defend Maxwell. I had to go there because it would be the only chance I'd have to tell them."
The only downsides for Mourinho was the booking that rules Branislav Ivanovic out of the semi-final first leg, and a muscle injury to Eden Hazard that, he said, it was too early to assess the seriousness of.
A somewhat stunned-looking PSG coach Laurent Blanc could only offer Chelsea congratulations and seek consolations. “I believe, over the two matches, there was little to choose between the sides,” he said. “Ultimately, their experience at this level maybe counted a bit extra. They're more used to playing games at this level. They believed right to the end and were rewarded.”
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