Champions League: Ba completes Chelsea’s Euro recovery job

Frank Dalleres
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(3-3 on aggregate. Chelsea win on away goals)

CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho insists he does not care who they face in the Champions League semi-finals after he masterminded a dramatic late victory over Paris Saint-Germain last night.

Substitute Andre Schurrle scored the first of two goals needed to overcome a 3-1 first-leg defeat before Paris-born Demba Ba pounced in the 87th minute to send the Blues through on away goals at the expense of his boyhood club.

It sparked a Mourinho celebration reminiscent of his Old Trafford touchline dash in 2004, yet he stubbornly played down his joy and refused to be drawn on possible opponents in Friday’s draw, which include Real Madrid, who survived a scare at Borussia Dortmund last night, holding on for a 3-2 aggregate win, despite a 2-0 defeat in Westfalenstadion.

“It’s a good victory but nothing extraordinary. Good, because we lost 3-1 and to change that result is always difficult. But the players are not jumping in the dressing room,” he said.

“If the quarter-finals had eight fantastic teams, imagine the four that are going to reach the semi-final.

“A big opponent is waiting for us but I think it doesn’t matter who. They know we are a team with a special spirit even if we are not in the maximum of our potential.

“Real, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United; it doesn’t matter.”

If Chelsea were looking for omens the sight of referee Pedro Proenca, who officiated in their 2012 final victory over Bayern Munich, provided a lift, though that was swiftly dampened when Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard was withdrawn injured after 17 minutes.

They soon drew an extraordinary reflex save from Salvatore Sirigu, however, who tipped Frank Lampard's deflected free-kick wide, and beat the goalkeeper moments later, Schurrle arriving unmarked to steer David Luiz’s flick-on into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.

Twice Chelsea rattled the crossbar shortly after half-time, Schurrle and then Oscar threatening to deliver the decisive second that would extend Mourinho’s unbeaten record in European quarter-final ties to nine.

As the Blues threw more men forward Edinson Cavani, among a Napoli side which also found a 3-1 first-leg lead too flimsy at Stamford Bridge in 2012, fashioned two chances to finish the tie but blazed over, the second provoking a fit of dismay from manager Laurent Blanc. A Chelsea winner felt inevitable, and it arrived in the dying moments.

Full-back Cesar Azpilicueta fired hopefully into a crowded box, the ball landed to substitute Ba, and he provoked wild celebrations by holding off Maxwell to scoop over Sirigu.