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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 6, 2009

Pique admits fortune after Chelsea penalty claim

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique admitted he did touch the ball with his hand as the Spanish side qualified for the Champions League final at the expense of Chelsea - but insisted it was not deliberate.

Guus Hiddink's men seemed destined for a date with Manchester United on the back of Michael Essien's early wonder goal at Stamford Bridge, but Barca struck back in stoppage time with a goal from Andres Iniesta to seal a 1-1 draw on the night and an away-goals aggregate win.

After the game the Chelsea players were incensed by a number of decisions by referee Tom Ovrebo, one when the ball struck Pique's arm inside the area for what appeared a clear penalty.

The former Manchester United man told Sky Sports 2: ''To be fair the ball touched my hand but I didn't want to touch it. The ref can decide what he wants and he decided not to say it was a penalty and you have to respect the decisions.

''Sometimes the decision is wrong but I am just happy to qualify for the final. The other things we cannot control.''

Chelsea dominated proceedings this evening and life was made even tougher for the visitors when Eric Abidal was dismissed, harshly, in the 66th minute.

''At one point in the game it was really hard when we had 10 men and they were attacking but finally in the last minute we scored a goal and I have no words to describe how happy is the team,'' he added.

''I think a team like this cannot go 180 minutes without scoring a goal. It was in the last minute but it was enough to qualify for the final.''

Pique admitted it would be ''special'' to face Manchester United in the final, but insisted it was more important just to be there.

''It means a lot, but more because we are in the final,'' he said. ''Okay it is against Man Utd and it will be special for me because I had three years, which were really good for me, there.

''It was really good for me to get experience and it will be special.''

Barca coach Pep Guardiola said he was surprised with Chelsea's approach to the game.

''It's fair to say they created chances on the counter but they were still a bit conservative,'' Guardiola said of the hosts. ''I expected them to press up more but they didn't. Even against 10 men Chelsea still stayed back. They knew we always have a threat and they respected us until the last minute.

''We keep going, we are consistent and we showed a lot of strength and bravery and created the chance at the end.''

Guardiola said he was particularly happy that the ultimate glory fell to Iniesta.

''I'm so happy for him because in many ways he represents Barcelona and how we play,'' he said. ''He sometimes gets criticised for not scoring enough but hopefully that will stop today as he has scored the most important goal of all.''

Iniesta himself said his team had deserved the goal, and the trip to Rome, for all the hard work they had done, and the great football they had played, over the season.

''We deserve it for all we've done over the course of the season,'' Iniesta told Canal Plus.

''If it had been in the fifth minute I would have hit it into the stands but I struck it with my whole soul and it went in the only place it could. Until the whistle has blown you have to believe.''

Guardiola now has his sights on United after Iniesta sent them to Rome.

''Manchester are the champions, an unbelievable team and a coach with experience,'' he said. ''We are going to prepare well. I expect us to have the ball, them to stay back and to counter-attack.

''I'm sure it will be a nice final because we will attack, we know that. I know they are a huge team but we are Barcelona.''

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