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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 24, 2008

Grant bitter over Spurs cup final defeat

Avram Grant lamented the manner in which Chelsea lost the Carling Cup final to Tottenham at Wembley, but maintained there was still plenty to play for this season.

After weathering an early storm, the Blues - who won this competition against Arsenal in Cardiff last year - put themselves in the driving seat when Didier Drogba made the most of poor positioning from Spurs keeper Paul Robinson to net a 25-yard free-kick.

However, Juande Ramos' side regrouped following the restart and were on level terms with 20 minutes left when Dimitar Berbatov converted from the penalty spot after Wayne Bridge had handled.

Fortune, though, was not on Chelsea's side as at the start of extra-time Petr Cech saw his attempted punched clearance bounce back off the head of Jonathan Woodgate and into an empty net as Spurs claimed their first trophy since they lifted the League Cup back in 1999.

Grant, who replaced Jose Mourinho as manager last September, said: 'We did not start the game very well, but then after 25 minutes or so we progressed and scored a goal.

'Then in the second half, Tottenham did not create many chances until the penalty decision, which brought them back into the game.

'The ball may have hit Wayne Bridge in the hand, but it was still a rash decision - like in the last seconds of the match to stop the game when [Salomon] Kalou was right in front of the goal.

'For the penalty, it was not even the referee's decision. It was the linesman.

'You can think it over and know that every time the ball touches a players' hand it is not a penalty. If it is deliberate yes, but if not then no.'

Grant added: 'The players are upset because the referee stopped the game when John Terry had headed the ball, and Kalou was in front of the goal. Then he stopped it.

'How can he decide it was not one or two seconds more? I do not understand that.

'However, we cannot take the time back. We have lost the final and that is it. We have to learn from it.'

Grant refused to blame Cech's error for the defeat.

He said: 'We win as a team and lose as a team.

'There are always personal mistakes in football, but we lost as a team,

'We will see what we can learn from this game.'

Grant - whose side are still in both the Champions League and FA Cup, while not yet out of the race for the Barclays Premier League - added: 'We drew at 90 minutes again today. We would like to win and we'll think about everything.

'We would like to get back to winning a few games in a way.

'We got to the final, which was not easy.

'Now, we have lost but we are still in all three other competitions and will do our best in them.'

All the pre-match focus had been on Grant's team selection, with the Israeli eventually selecting both England captain Terry and Frank Lampard.

However, in the end too many of Chelsea's big stars failed to deliver - while £15million striker Nicolas Anelka was somewhat wasted out on the left of a supposed three-pronged attack, but which often left Drogba isolated and creative England man Joe Cole was kept on the bench until extra time.

But the 52-year-old insisted it was a strike partnership which can deliver.

'It was the first game they played together. I think it will be a good combination,' said Grant.

'We wanted to play Anelka on the side because he's a creative player and quick. That's what we wanted from him.

'Today was not an easy game for them to do their best.'

Grant added: 'It is not a casino - there is no gamble in football.

'They can play together, no question. You can't pick players like them and say it's a gamble.'

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