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By ESPN Staff

Hiddink denies Barcelona's ''dirty tricks'' claims

Guus Hiddink has denied Chelsea were guilty of ''dirty tricks'' in their goalless draw with Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

Barcelona's stars accused Chelsea of playing ''dirty'' in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night.

The Catalan giants were unhappy with some of the physical challenges from Chelsea's players but, ahead of their 'derby' clash with Fulham tomorrow, a defiant Hiddink insisted there was nothing nasty about their performance.

''It was a man's match,'' said Hiddink. ''There were some collisions, but from either side. It's a man's game. They were controlling and dominating the game and I'd have liked to have had some more initiatives, but they controlled it.

''I don't like to give in that easily. We were well organised and played well, defensively. I'd like to have taken a little bit more of the initiative, but they are a disciplined team as well.

''Under Pep Guardiola, they know how to defend firmly and their centre-back, too, isn't afraid to make the game tough. On top of that, they can play.

''We would, of course, have liked to play more, but we were playing the best team in their concept of football. We didn't want to play 'anti-football'. This team has proved for several months, and at the beginning of the season, that they can play football.

''But we were not able to start a good attacking game in Barcelona - you can blame us for not starting well and they made it difficult. We don't like to allow them to take the victory. This team has the character to fight as well.''

Chelsea winger Florent Malouda claimed Barcelona's players were guilty of play-acting and went down too easily when challenged, but Hiddink defended the Spanish side.

''I don't think there was a lot of acting,'' added Hiddink. ''There were some good fights, for instance between Daniel Alves and Malouda.

''That's normal friction. I don't think there was a lot of theatre from either side. There were some good duels but I didn't see many players rolling around. I don't think it's as bad as was suggested just after the game.''


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