Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Easter's a Hero as Chelsea Held

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Easter's a Hero as Chelsea Held

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM COLLOMOSSE

Wycombe 1

Chelsea 1

JOSE Mourinho admitted his frustration at being unable to strengthen his Chelsea squad as his side were sensationally held by Wycombe last night writes TOM COLLOMOSSE.

Following the disappointing 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final at the Coca-Cola League Two club Mourinho claimed his squad was stretched to the limit.

The Blues were forced to play the game without captain John Terry, fellow centre-back Ricardo Carvalho and top scorer Didier Drogba, as well as goalkeepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini.

Despite that, Chelsea took the lead in the first half through Wayne Bridge and appeared to be cruising to victory.

But they were punished for sitting back when Jermaine Easter - who has now scored in every round - equalised with his sixth goal of the competition 13 minutes from time.

But despite failing to beat a team 71 places below them in league football, Mourinho insisted he was happy with the outcome.

"I am happy with the result and the effort, but not the performance," he said. "But I cannot criticise (makeshift centre-backs) Michael Essien and Paulo Ferreira for the goal. For people who never play in that position, I thought they did very well.

"Even if we had lost today, we would still have had the chance to play at Stamford Bridge, so I think we are in a good position to reach the final. We have a lot of problems, but we are surviving."

Wycombe boss Paul Lambert hailed his players for keeping the tie alive, but was under no illusions about the size of the task awaiting his team at the Premiership champions.

Lambert, a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund in 1997, said: "The players were terrific. I thought our win at Charlton earlier in the competition was exceptional, but this exceeded it. I am as proud as anything of the players.

"This has kept the tie alive, but it will be a mammoth job for us at Stamford Bridge. It will probably be the toughest game the lads will play in their lives."

Lambert's men remain unbeaten at home since October and now have another cup hero after Roy Essandoh from the 2001 FA Cup run when they reached the same stage. …

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