Unbelievable: Chelsea's eight-goal thriller has Hiddink's heartbeat 'going mad'
15 April 2009 01:33
Guus Hiddink claimed a half-time dressing down saved Chelsea's Champions League dream during one of the most dramatic nights in the competition's history.
The Stamford Bridge side recovered from 2-0 down to book their place in a mouth-watering semi-final against Barcelona later this month after a thrilling comeback.
Hiddink said: 'It was not just me losing my temper at half-time, we have some more people who can do that.
'We spoke to them and sometimes you lose your temper. But they react. The players themselves knew what they did was not OK. But we played against a team that can play beautiful football. If you give them too much space, you're in trouble.
'I have had some dramatic games, but this was one of those where the players, everyone, made a lot of errors. That's why it was so attractive, going from one end to the other. One time you think you're down, the next you react. It was like being on a wave. My heart is, I don't know, around 100 now but at some parts, it was up to 160,180 beats per minute.
'The first half was horrific. We were angry at half-time because we didn't start as we had planned. We dropped back too much. We were looking for safety. We should have reduced the space by moving forward.
'We also lost too many duels in the first half. We know this team reacts. We know we can score goals and, happily, we did at the beginning of the second half.'
Chelsea, who had the cushion of a 3-1 win from the first leg at Anfield, went a goal down when Fabio Aurelio's quickly taken free-kick beat Petr Cech at his near post in another error-strewn performance from the keeper.
Liverpool appeared on course for a comeback to equal the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul when Xabi Alonso scored a penalty in the 27th minute to make it 2-0.
But that was snuffed out by a three-goal comeback from Chelsea, who will have to do without Ashley Cole in the semi-final first leg after he was booked for shoving Alvaro Arbeloa.
Lampard said: 'Liverpool are a fantastic team, which is why they kept coming back. Wedidn't turn up in the first half tonight, we didn't approach the game in the right way but our character in turning it round at half-time says a lot about our mental strength.'
Drogba was already looking forward to the semi-final. He said: 'Barcelona will be a difficult one but if you want to win the Champions League you have to play against these big teams. Maybe we lost our nerve in the first half. The desire to qualify brought us through tonight.'
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said: 'We saw character, quality and we have to be proud. We were on top of them from the beginning. Credit to all the players, especially Lucas in the middle in Gerrard's position. We were very, very close.
'When you play against a good team like Chelsea and make a mistake, you pay for it. We were attacking, controlling it, but one or two mistakes and that's it. We had 29 fouls against us, too.'
Chelsea will be concerned by the form of their keeper as they approach Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
Hiddink said: 'Cech is intelligent and self-critical. He knows he had a
difficult time against Bolton, but also tonight. You could see he wasn't at full confidence. But a goalie, once in a while, has the right not to have a big game. But he will stay a good goalkeeper.'
Liverpool will be able to concentrate on the fight for the Barclays Premier League title now and will have a week to recover before facing Arsenal.
Steven Gerrard, who missed last night's game after complaining of more pain in his groin, is expected to return.
Benitez said: 'We thought he'd be OK but he felt something. To lose a player who is so important credit to the others for doing a fantastic job.'