Ten Cate 'devastated' to lose final on penalties
Assistant coach Henk ten Cate revealed Chelsea had been left 'devastated' by their dramatic penalty shootout defeat to Manchester United in the final of the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo had put United in front in the 26th minute but Frank Lampard equalised seconds before half-time.
The game went to penalties after extra-time failed to separate the Barclays Premier League's top two teams in the competition's first all-English final.
Chelsea would have won their first Champions League crown if captain John Terry had scored his spot-kick but the defender slipped as he connected with the ball and sent his effort wide.
His miss was followed by Edwin van der Sar's save from Nicolas Anelka to hand United their third European Cup and the second under Sir Alex Ferguson.
'We were devastated to lose it like that,' said Ten Cate. 'I thought that in the second half and extra-time that we were the better side.
'We had some good chances and were very unlucky. We hit the post and the crossbar but penalties is a lottery and we got the short straw.'
But Ten Cate, who joined the club as Avram Grant's number two shortly after the Israeli replaced Jose Mourinho as manager in September, paid tribute to the character of the players during a difficult season.
The Dutchman, who tasted Champions League success as assistant to Frank Rijkaard when Barcelona beat Arsenal in 2006, said: 'The players have done a fantastic job this year.
'Especially if you look at the many critics they had, the manager especially.
'The players had to cope with it every day and to come so far, and be better over the 120 minutes against one of the best teams in the world, means that everyone at Chelsea can be proud.'
Ten Cate was full of sympathy for Terry who, he claims, was not in the original five penalty takers.
Terry was just 12 yards away from winning the trophy for the club he joined as a youngster when his standing leg fell from beneath him as he attempted the place the ball to Van der Sar's left.
'It was unbelievable,' said Ten Cate. 'He just slipped. We practiced penalties in training last week and he was so confident - he took them all very well.
'So we were pretty confident. He was not in the first five but when it comes to take them, somebody might say `I don't feel well, I prefer somebody else take it'.'
It is unclear whether Didier Drogba - sent off in extra-time for slapping Nemanja Vidic - would have taken a penalty instead of Terry.
Ronaldo headed United in front with his 42nd goal of a memorable season when he met a cross from Wes Brown at the far post.
But Lampard levelled on the stroke of half-time after Michael Essien's shot had cannoned into his path off the back of United captain Rio Ferdinand.
Drogba and Lampard both hit the woodwork for the Blues as they searched for a winner and United spent much of extra-time on the ropes.
Chelsea appeared to be heading for glory when Petr Cech saved Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty but Terry's glaring miss handed the momentum back to United.
Nicolas Anelka's spot-kick was then kept out by Van der Sar and United had clinched another European triumph - 50 years since the Munich disaster and four decades after they became the first English club to win the competition.