Demba Ba claimed Chelsea have "three great strikers" after netting a late winner during the English side's Champions League quarter-final second leg with Paris Saint-Germain, rubbishing Jose Mourinho's insistence that the Stamford Bridge side lack a world-class goalscorer.
Ba, a 66th-minute substitute, swiped the decisive strike home with just three minutes to play. He made the score 2-0 on the night, 3-3 on aggregate, sending Chelsea through on away goals.
In the frantic aftermath, the Senegalese striker couldn't help but have a pop at his manager, as reported by John Cross of the Mirror:
I'm not out for revenge, maybe he (Mourinho) doesn't have strikers to his liking but I know that we have three great strikers and I think that a lot of clubs would like to have them.
I'm happy. I'm happy to have liberated us. I haven't been given my chance much this season [but here] I've taken it. It's the first time I've wished PSG to lose, and it's me who scores the goal - luckily for Chelsea.
Mourinho has made a string of comments belittling his forwards in recent weeks. Perhaps most infamously, his secretly filmed mocking of Samuel Eto'o's age and suggestion that Chelsea "lack a striker" continues to overshadow his every selection, per The Telegraph.
The Portuguese boss started without a recognised frontman during the first leg with PSG, before bringing on Fernando Torres to try to change the game. Unlike Ba's impact during the return encounter, the Spaniard played anonymously, leading Mourinho into a rant about his lack of in-form goalscorers, reported by Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
I’m not happy with my strikers’ performances so I had to try things. And with Andre at least I know we have one more player to have the ball, one more player to associate with the other players, even though he’s not a striker.
But football is not just about that. It’s also about scoring goals, getting behind, and that is for strikers. Real strikers.
Perhaps ironically, Mourinho finished the second leg with all three of his strikers on the pitch. Ba was the man who grabbed the goal, and indeed, he has been something of a forgotten entity this season. He has made just three starts and 16 substitute appearances across the Premier League and Champions League, scoring six times, per WhoScored.com.
All three of Mourinho's strikers seem destined to be axed at the end of the season. With Romelu Lukaku continuing to impress out on loan at Everton and Chelsea supposedly hunting the likes of Diego Costa, per Rob Draper of the Daily Mail, there's little room for individuals Mourinho isn't enthused to play.
Ba's moment of glory may be key to a second Champions League success in three years for Chelsea. Whether his goal leads to ultimate triumph remains to be seen, but as Mourinho's men gather momentum toward crucial games in the Premier League and Europe, both player and manager will be relieved to see Ba still has the goalscoring touch.
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