After the goalless first leg at Stamford Bridge tonight, both managers were claiming they were happy with the result. In truth though it’s probably fair to say that both managers would have preferred to have scored at least one goal to take to Anfield next week.
Liverpool’s boss Rafa Benitez said: "We have played a good game. The team worked hard and controlled the game, they had some chances but at the end a draw is a good result. We had more counter-attacks and they started playing with long balls."
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said he thought Liverpool had got that away goal when a Baros header was turned behind by the Chelsea keeper: "On the bench you see the ball was almost in the goal but the goalkeeper is a good goalkeeper."
He continued: "We knew what to do against Chelsea, we know they have a lot of good players who can create opportunities. The most important thing is we need only to win at Anfield. It is a good situation." He also called on the Reds fans to make next Tuesday another special European night at Anfield: "We have very good supporters, they will be with us at Anfield and we need to win."
Meanwhile Chelsea’s boss tried to put on a brave face. Jose Mourinho said: "I’m happy with the result. 0-0 is not the result we fought for, we tried to win the game and created enough chances to win it. We had chances – more than I thought we would get before the game.
Before I was thinking it would be more difficult to create chances. But in a Champions League tie 0-0 at home is a good result."
The battle on the field is always matched by the psychological battle off it these days, and maybe Mourinho was trying to hide his true feelings when he said, "The result leaves me very, very, very confident we will get to the final." Use of the word "very" three times in succession could well be a cover for real disappointment. Chelsea were matched tonight over the 90 minutes.
When the two teams play at Anfield of course any goal from Chelsea means that Liverpool have to win. Liverpool have got to score to go through. Another scoreless draw would lead to extra time, then penalties, but the fact that any Chelsea goals count "double" as away goals means Liverpool have to try and get that goal.
Mourinho sees Chelsea getting away goals as a foregone conclusion: "We will score goals in Liverpool and they will have to play a different way."
The Chelsea manager was sent from the dugout at Cardiff for making inflammatory gestures to Liverpool fans after Gerrard’s own goal. He continued to taunt the Reds fans when he said, "99.9% of Liverpool fans will be thinking at the moment they have one
foot in the final – but they aren’t. It is very difficult for them. Rafael Benitez is a great manager but I think we are in a very good position."
"It was not an outstanding game, it was a good game with fair play and the teams fighting for their objectives, trying to win. It’s a game everyone participating in it can be quite proud of – but I go home very confident. We always have confidence and we need to believe in ourselves. I expect us to win and I’m confident we can score goals if we don’t lose more players because our situation isn’t good with injuries – but I think we will go to the final." Perhaps a look at the guest book at the Melwood treatment room will show how Liverpool’s situation with injuries hasn’t been that good either this season.