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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr, 9, 2008

Grant puts his faith in Hilario for vital games

Avram Grant has underlined his faith in third-choice goalkeeper Hilario after a hamstring injury to Carlo Cudicini took the shine off Chelsea reaching the Champions League semi-final.

Grant is waiting on an update on Cudicini, who joins Petr Cech on the sidelines after the first-choice goalkeeper's facial injury ahead of the victory over Fenerbahce last night.

Hilario came off the bench for Cudicini at Stamford Bridge and, despite looking shaky with the ball at his feet, pulled off saves from Gokhan Gonul and Colin Kazim-Richards to keep Chelsea ahead.

'It is very important for a third goalkeeper to do a good job when you need him, and we have needed him this year,' said Chelsea boss Grant. 'It's not easy when you lose your goalkeeper. Hilario was good.'

For the game against Wigan next Monday, it could be Hilario in goal and 18-year-old Rhys Taylor on the bench.

'The news is that is doesn't look so good for the moment with Carlo but we need to wait and see,' said Grant. 'This year I am more a doctor than a manager, I need to answer every week about injuries.

'We have Hilario and have the goalkeeper from the youth team. He is a good goalkeeper.'

Trailing 2-1 to Fenerbahce from the first leg in Istanbul, Michael Ballack levelled the quarter-final with a fourth-minute header from Frank Lampard's free-kick.

It meant Chelsea were ahead on away goals but the Turkish champions remained a threat and it took Lampard's close-range strike three minutes from full-time to set up another semi-final with Liverpool.

Chelsea and Liverpool will now meet three times in four seasons at this stage of the competition, and Rafael Benitez's side have emerged victorious on both occasions so far.

Lampard said on ITV4: 'We've been there, we know everything about them and they know everything about us. It's amazing how often we've been in this situation.

'It's going to be a tough game, it's important to show the same concentration as we did against Fenerbahce.'

Despite their record against Liverpool, Grant has set his sights on Champions League glory.

He added: 'Of course I believe. I am optimistic by nature. I believed that when I received the team after the draw against Rosenborg here and there were five teams ahead of us in the league and I don't know how many points.

'I said that we could do good things this year. Now we are close. So of course.'

One sour note was Michael Essien picking up a booking for dissent, meaning he will miss the first leg against Liverpool.

Grant said: 'It's a bit disappointing but it has happened. It's not good that he will miss the next game but it is a fact and we cannot do anything about it.'

After rattling Chelsea over two legs, Fenerbahce boss Zico was pleased with the efforts of his players.

The Brazilian said: 'The players showed discipline and enthusiasm, they did as much as they could do and showed great character. We are very sorry we could not continue this journey.'

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