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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr, 8, 2009

Hiddink hails Blues

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink hailed his side's stunning Champions League quarter-final victory at Liverpool but admitted it was an "unexpected result''.

The Blues stormed to a 3-1 victory at Anfield which all but assures them of a semi-final against Barcelona, who beat Bayern Munich 4-0 in the first leg of their tie.

Hiddink said: "The reality is that when you have to play at Liverpool you know it will be a tough job, that has been proved by many other teams who have played at Anfield.

"I admit it was an unexpected result, but we are very happy with the win and it was well deserved.

"We started very sloppily. The jobs we were doing in defence were not as good as they could have been.

"We let them score far too easily, but I can only compliment my team for their recovery from that set-back. Straight afterwards we could have equalised on two occasions.

"But we reacted well, we scored with a very good set-piece and from then on the confidence flooded through our team.''

Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic scored with headers from two set-pieces after Fernando Torres had put Liverpool ahead early on.

Didier Drogba then struck a third to give Liverpool a mountain to climb next week at Stamford Bridge.

Hiddink added: "Once we had got the equaliser we did not sit back and be content with the draw. We felt we could score more and that is what we did.

"We pinpointed areas in our opponents' side where we could hurt them. The team could smell that and they took advantage. We talked about that situation again at the break and made sure we continued in the same way.

"And I was delighted with Ivanovic. When you join a club like Chelsea and then find it hard to get games, it can be tough. But he has been determined in training and shown a good mentality.

"Elsewhere we worked hard to stop their weapons, (Steven) Gerrard and Torres, and the passing triangle they use with the right-back, (Alvaro) Arbeloa.

"Michael Essien was the key for us in midfield. He did not only follow Gerrard everywhere, but was able to be the starting point to many of our attacks.

"We also felt we could have some success attacking at corners with the way they use their zonal marking. We managed some real benefits from that.''

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez could not help but lament his side's poor defending at set-pieces.

"We scored first but after that we were never in control,'' he said. "We conceded a bad equaliser from a set-piece. That was not because of the zonal marking but because players made mistakes to allow people space and time. We made a mistake because they are strong in the air - and we paid for it.''

He added: "For their first goal there were three players near to the scorer and they were not able to stop him. And then something very similar happened for the second. We made bad mistakes at crucial times."

However he believes that all is not lost, and is still hopeful his players can progress to the next round.

"Now we know we have a difficult task in the second leg. We have to score three times and have a very good game against a very good team. But we must believe we can do it. We have scored four at Manchester United so we know what we are capable of".

Benitez, though, was clearly disappointed: "Chelsea did not really surprise us, and they clearly believe that this is the competition they have most chance of winning now.

"They have won many away games this games this season, but the way we lost was hard to take.''

The Spaniard continued: "I felt we started really well but after the goal we didn't pass the ball properly. We were giving the ball away, and they were passing it well.''

However, the Liverpool manager hopes his title-chasing team can put the result behind them and produce a winning performance in this weekend's Barclays Premier League match against Blackburn.

"We have an important game on Saturday. The Premier League is another competition, and we will have to be ready.''

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech hailed his team's "great advantage'' after they claimed a 3-1 lead at Anfield in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool.

Two goals from Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic and a third from Didier Drogba put the Blues in total control of the tie after Fernando Torres' early opener.

"I think this is a great result but it didn't start well for us and after a few minutes we were 1-0 down, which was the last thing we wanted, but we had a great reaction,'' he told Sky Sports.

"Branislav scored important goals from set-plays - the second arrived at the best possible time.

"The third one, they gambled and we had space on the counter-attack. I think this is a great advantage for the home leg.''

Ivanovic added: "These are my first goals (for Chelsea) and I am very happy. We played like a team and this is great for us.''

Cech warned his jubilant team-mates that there was still all to play for at Stamford Bridge in next week's second leg.

"We are still at half-time and you know 3-1 is great result at half-time, but we have to play the second half,'' he said.

"But now we are the favourites to go through because we have the advantage. It will be very hard for them to score three goals.''

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