Chelsea Must Lift Curse; Mourinho's Men Bid to End 30-Year Wait at Nou Camp

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

Chelsea Must Lift Curse; Mourinho's Men Bid to End 30-Year Wait at Nou Camp


Byline: MICHAEL HART

European Cup

Last 16, 1st leg

Chelsea 1 Barcelona 2

Scorer: Motta (og) 59 Scorers: Terry (og) 71,

Eto'o 80

Sent off: Del Horno Booked: Puyol, Iniesta

Attendance: 39,521 Ref: T Hauge (Nor)

CHELSEA must end 30 years of failure by English clubs in Barcelona's Nou Camp Stadium if they are to salvage their hopes of progressing in the European Cup.

In 18 attempts, only one English club have ever beaten the Spanish champions at home in a major European competition - Liverpool, who secured a 1-0 victory over the Barcelona of Neeskens and Cruyff in the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1976.

Chelsea head coach Jose Mourinho might be encouraged by their achievement but he will know that realistically Chelsea's quarterfinal place depends on a second-leg performance of epic proportions after last night's 2-1 defeat.

The dismissal of Chelsea left-back Asier Del Horno after 37 minutes handed the initiative to Barcelona. There's no doubt that his challenge on Argentinian Lionel Messi was ugly and reckless. What was a daunting challenge then suddenly became mission impossible.

Mourinho, asked whether the red card was justified, told the media afterwards: "It's better for you to judge because if I say, I could be suspended .

But cou ld Messi be suspended for acting?

" Play -ing 10 men against 11 changed everything. It's difficult enough when you have 11, especially when you are playing against a good team. But when you have only 10 you can't play a pressing game high up the field, you can't defend deep and you can't double up. …

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