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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Mourinho the deluded one

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Anfield

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Mourinho maintained his side were superior - they were not
Jose Mourinho was stripped of his self-appointed status as the special one and became the deluded one as Liverpool visited another Champions League nightmare upon Chelsea.

Mourinho's disappointment was understandable, as he had to swallow a second semi-final defeat in front of an Anfield gallery that has taken particular exception to his unique, outspoken personality.

But it took all of Mourinho's brass neck and some very thick blue-tinted spectacles to sit and declare - without any sign of his tongue drilling a hole in his cheek - that the best team lost and that Chelsea were truly deserving of a place in the Athens final.

Nonsense. Every word of it.

If Mourinho truly believed Chelsea were the stronger team, the team pressing inexorably for victory, the team throwing men forward at set pieces to secure the goal that would have made a final place certain, he kids no-one but himself.

606: DEBATE

Mourinho's self-belief is iron-clad, but in this instance he simply used it as a shield against what was a grim reality for Chelsea.

"Chelsea tried to win it in 90 minutes. Chelsea tried to win it in extra time. The best team was the team in blue," he said.

Liverpool were the side that deserved the win

And on it went in an assessment that was nothing short of bemusing.

Liverpool were the side that deserved the win, even if it came in the awful lottery of penalties.

Rafael Benitez's side showed the greater verve and variety - just look at the work-sheet of the two goalkeepers if you want proof.

Pepe Reina, before his penalty heroics, made a fine save from Didier Drogba and endured the odd skirmish around the six-yard area.

Chelsea counterpart Petr Cech was beaten by Daniel Agger's first-half strike, saved brilliantly from Peter Crouch and watched Dirk Kuyt's header hit a post.

Dutch striker Kuyt also saw a goal ruled out by a marginal offside and brought a fine save from Cech in the final seconds after he was played in by Robbie Fowler.

Daniel Agger (left) celebrates scoring with Peter Crouch
Agger (left) scored the only goal at Anfield

Chelsea, in the real world away from the place Mourinho appeared to be occupying, were brave, resilient, and only the hardest heart would not feel a tinge of sympathy for men like John Terry and Claude Makelele.

But they were pedestrian, unambitious, and seemed to have a simple plan A aimed at securing a goalless draw.

Once that went west, plan B was a horribly basic approach of hoofing the ball in the general direction of Didier Drogba and crossing fingers that these scraps would lead to a feast.

It did not work and never looked like working, hence general astonishment at Mourinho's swiftly drawn up attempt to re-write history.

Chelsea ultimately paid the price for failing to kill Liverpool off in the first match at Stamford Bridge, a game Mourinho was well within his rights to say his team dominated.

This game was Liverpool's and Benitez's. They will not care one jot for the somewhat bizarre analysis offered up by Mourinho.

Liverpool, fuelled by another firecracker of an Anfield atmosphere, deserved their place in the final.

And after the miracle of Istanbul in 2005, who would bet against Benitez making it a remarkable two Champions League wins in three seasons at Liverpool?



SEE ALSO
Champions League photos
01 May 07 |  Football
Graham Taylor's Euro verdict
01 May 07 |  Europe


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