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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
By ESPN Staff

Moscow finale never in doubt for Drogba

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Didier Drogba said he was never in any doubt that Chelsea's season would end in Moscow.

The Ivory Coast striker struck twice on Wednesday to earn the Blues a 3-2 victory over Liverpool and set up a Champions League final against Manchester United.

Avram Grant's side could still arrive in the Russian capital looking for an unlikely double, should United wobble in their final two Premier League games.

However, Drogba said this season's focus had always been on elevating Chelsea into the elite club of Champions League winners, a mission that has not wavered despite the shock early-season exit of popular coach Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho departed after a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Rosenborg Trondheim in September, Chelsea's opening match on their Champions League journey.

'Right from the beginning of the season the Champions League was our target,' Drogba, who is Chelsea's record scorer in the competition with 18, told reporters.

'Okay we had some problems this season. It was a difficult time for the club. But the most important thing was to stand up and keep working as we did. The objective didn't change and now we are in the final.

'United are a fantastic team and are the best in England, but we aren't bad either.'

Drogba has experienced a big European showpiece occasion before when he was on the losing Marseille side against Valencia in the 2004 UEFA Cup final.

While most of the squad will be breaking new ground on May 21, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Claude Makelele already know what it feels like to win the Champions League.

Carvalho and Ferreira were part of the Porto side that won the trophy in 2004 under Jose Mourinho while 35-year-old Makelele, who applied a stranglehold on Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard on Wednesday, won it in 2002 for Real Madrid.

Michael Ballack, who is beginning to show his best at Chelsea, was in the Bayer Leverkusen side that lost to Real so will also have a huge incentive to claim a winners' medal.

Carvalho returned from a goal-conceding mistake against Manchester United on Saturday with a typically assured performance against Liverpool and believes the momentum is swinging Chelsea's way as the season reaches its climax.

'The (league) victory over United has given us a great deal of confidence,' he told reporters. 'First we have to win our last two league games and hope United make a mistake.

'Once we get to Moscow it will be a one-off. We have great players and a strong mentality and we will have to show in one game that we are better than them.'