Jose Mourinho believes his decision to throw caution to the wind means Chelsea deserved to go through in Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
Mourinho set out to attack PSG before throwing on two extra strikers in the shape of Demba Ba and Fernando Torres as Chelsea looked for an elusive second goal. The Blues eventually netted twice to win 2-0 on the night, drawing 3-3 on aggregate and progressing thanks to an away goal.
Speaking to ITV after the game, via BBC Sport, Mourinho said:
I think we did enough at beginning of the second-half to score before we did. The contradiction of what [PSG] are and what they wanted to do. In the second-half it was pure ball possession. But it was difficult for us to penetrate. We did it in training yesterday, with three different systems, all of which we used. The players knew what they had to do. Demba Ba made a crucial finish for us.
It was very much deserved that the team that tried to defend was punished. The team that played with their heart deserved to go through.
Mourinho ran the length of the pitch when Demba Ba netted to put Chelsea level 3-3 on aggregate and through on away goals. However, far from the celebratory nature of previous Mourinho touchline runs, the Portuguese explained this sprint was about tactics, per BBC Sport:
I didn't go to the corner flag to celebrate. I went to tell them the changes we had to make. There were three minutes plus extra-time left and the way we were playing was too risky.
I wanted Demba Ba to play in front of the defenders and Fernando Torres to defend Maxwell. I tried to use them in different jobs.
Defeated PSG manager Laurent Blanc was quick to praise Chelsea. According to the Blues' official Twitter account, Blanc said:
Laurent Blanc: 'Chelsea were much better in the second half and they were rewarded. Good luck to them.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) April 8, 2014
Liam Twomey of Goal.com shares additional comments from Blanc, via his Twitter profile:
Chelsea's players spoke of how they refused to give up hope. As Simon Burnton of The Guardian reports, John Terry told ITV:
At 1-0 we always give ourselves a chance. We worked a lot all week on scenarios. Every scenario we had a gameplan and once again we got it right. Nights like tonight—big players, big performances—that's what we live for.
Demba Ba snatched the late goal that sent Chelsea through to the semi-finals. Burnton reports Ba as saying: "I just do what I do when I get chances. I haven't had a lot of chances this year but I just took it."
Clearly proud of his players, Mourinho told Sky Sports, via BBC Sport: "We gave everything. My four defenders were brilliant. The midfield were animals. Luiz was a monster. Our forwards were brave."
The result was totally deserved. They shrugged off the early loss of Eden Hazard, who damaged his hamstring and is touch and go for the huge game at Anfield in 18 days. Chelsea kept pushing for the goals which came. Schürrle was magnificent, embodying the will to win Chelsea required.
However, Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail cites a different Chelsea hero. For him, Petr Cech was just as influential between the posts as Chelsea's forwards were at the other end of the pitch:
This was a night for old-fashioned heroes and none loomed larger than Petr Cech in Chelsea's goal. After his poor performance in the first leg, at fault for two goals, here was the reason Mourinho may yet resist bringing Thibaut Courtois back from Atletico Madrid next season.
Chelsea progress to the final four, where they could face Mourinho's former club Real Madrid, who went through 3-2 on aggregate despite losing 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday evening (via UEFA.com).
Keeping clean sheets against the likes Real, Barcelona and Bayern Munich—the clubs most likely to join the Blues in the semi-finals—will be no easy task. However, Chelsea have been here before. They can take heart from their 2012 semi-final performance when they held on against Barcelona to progress to the final, before going on to win their first Champions League crown.
One thing is for sure: Mourinho's love affair with Europe's premier competition is set to continue for one more round.