We were lucky: Jose JOSE MOURINHO


PARIS. — Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admitted his side were fortunate to come away with a draw in the first leg of their Champions League soccer last-16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night as he hailed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. PSG had the better of the game but only had a second-half Edinson Cavani goal to show for their efforts, with Courtois producing half a dozen vital saves to help Chelsea claim a 1-1 draw in the French capital.

As a result, Branislav Ivanovic’s precious away goal in the first half — from Chelsea’s only chance of the game — gives the Premier League leaders the upper hand going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 11.

“I think the first half was our half. Paris gave us the ball, played defensively with a very low block. They never put pressure on us and we were very comfortable, moving the ball, letting the clock tick and never having problems to control the game,” Mourinho said.

“The second half was different. They were very direct and it was their half. I think 1-1 reflects one half for Chelsea, one half for Paris, but if you go to chances created and the goalkeepers’ performances we have to be honest and say they had more than us, so if somebody was closer to winning the game it was Paris not Chelsea.

“The advantage is minimal. Now everything is decided at Stamford Bridge and not in two matches. They are a fantastic team and we did ok.”

Courtois was brought back into the Chelsea side in place of Petr Cech and displayed exactly why he is seen as one of the finest goalkeepers in the world with a string of saves, including one from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in injury time.

“If football was nine outfield players plus two goalkeepers we would give no chance to anyone. We would be absolutely phenomenal because they are both phenomenal,” said Mourinho of the duo, before highlighting defender Ivanovic’s ability to pop up with crucial goals in big games.

“Iva’ has this feeling in big occasions. It looks like he chooses his moments, to win against Liverpool (in the League Cup semi-final), to score here, in the Europa League final (against Benfica in 2013). He chooses the right moment to do it.”

With time to prepare for the second leg, Chelsea’s next game is against Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, when Mourinho may decide to rotate his squad after admitting that several players had not trained in the build-up to the Paris clash.

The Portuguese coach said Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Ivanovic had all been absent from the training ground while Cesc Fabregas had been “three days in bed with high temperatures.” — AFP.

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