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Rediff.com  » Sports » Mourinho misses start of new Chelsea era

Mourinho misses start of new Chelsea era

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February 28, 2005 11:30 IST

Jose Mourinho claimed his first trophy as Chelsea manager when his team beat Liverpool 3-2 after extra time in a dramatic English League Cup final on Sunday -- but he was not there to see it happen.

The Portuguese watched the last 40 minutes on television after being asked to leave the technical area on the recommendation of the police for inciting Liverpool fans following Chelsea's 79th-minute equaliser.

A week in which Mourinho saw his side lose in the FA Cup to Newcastle and in the Champions League to Barcelona was in danger of ending in even greater disappointment.

At the end, though, Mourinho emerged victorious from the players tunnel after Chelsea's come-from-behind win, although the architect of the success was in disgrace at the moment of triumph.

That was not the only irony on an afternoon when Chelsea's quest for world domination, funded by Russian owner Roman Abramovich's billions and fuelled by Mourinho's unquestionable self-belief, brought the first of what could be many trophies.

Chelsea's equaliser was scored by Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain coveted by Abramovich who almost joined the London club last year and could still move to Stamford Bridge.

GLANCING HEADER

Defending a free kick from Paulo Ferreira, Gerrard sent a glancing header past his own goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and into the net.

If he does move to Stamford Bridge Gerrard may score many goals for Chelsea but this one completed a nightmare game for the player described as the heart-and-soul of his club.

Apart from coming close to giving Liverpool a 2-0 lead shortly before his own goal, Gerrard had a match to forget and was outshone by his England midfield partner Frank Lampard.

Whereas Lampard ran tirelessly and passed intelligently, Gerrard's influence was largely restricted to playing deep and trying to keeping Chelsea at bay.

He never had a chance to control the game in the way he so often does except for a brief period in the second half when he moved up to support striker Fernando Morientes and initiated a brief period of Liverpool supremacy.

Gerrard has repeatedly said he will stay at Liverpool as long as he believes they can win major trophies but on this form Chelsea look the more likely team to fulfil those ambitions.

FASTEST GOAL

Although Liverpool claimed the fastest goal in the 45-year history of the League Cup final when Norwegian John Arne Riise scored after 43 seconds, Rafael Benitez's men defended for much of the rest of the match and did so superbly.

Sami Hyypia and Djimi Traore restricted Chelsea's options repeatedly when they looked to have created a scoring chance and Jamie Carragher was outstanding.

After two defeats in the last week this game suddenly assumed greater importance for Chelsea who had only lost four times in 42 matches this season.

Once Gerrard had equalised, however, it seemed only a matter of time before Chelsea went on to win. The fact they did not lead until the 18th minute of extra time underlined Liverpool's resilience, but they finally buckled when Didier Drogba and substitute Mateja Kezman scored twice inside four minutes.

Liverpool hit back almost immediately through substitute Antonio Nunez but they were left chasing the game for the last seven minutes, just as they had done most of the previous 113.

Mourinho ended his afternoon rowing with reporters at the post-match news conference, yet with another trophy to his credit following his haul with former club Porto.

For once, though, his eloquence deserted him and his team were left to do the talking on the field, with Mourinho watching, like millions of others, on television.

Source:
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