The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mourinho: The boys were brilliant
- We were denied a penalty, says Ferguson

London: Coach Jose Mourinho said Chelsea fully deserved their FA Cup final triumph over Manchester United on Saturday after a season hit by setbacks and injuries.

Ivorian striker Didier Drogba scored their winner in the 26th minute of extra-time at the new Wembley Stadium, adding the FA Cup to Chelsea’s collection of two Premier League titles and two League Cups since Mourinho took over in 2004.

Mourinho, whose side has surrendered their Premier League crown to United, said Chelsea merited the trophy for two reasons.

“Because we were the best team today and because we did a good Cup,” he told a news conference.

“We had a very difficult semi-final against a very good Blackburn and two games to remember against Tottenham — with an unbelievable match at home when we were losing 3-1 and we recovered for the second game.

“It was a team with many, many problems during the season but, even so, we were together all the time and won two cups.”

The Portuguese coach also highlighted the fact that Chelsea only lost a Champions League semi-final to Liverpool on penalties and finished second in the Premier League.

“So I think the boys deserved such an important victory. It’s not just an FA Cup — it’s the first FA Cup at the new Wembley, an FA Cup against Manchester United and an FA Cup that gives us the opportunity to say in three seasons we have won every competition in English football.”

Mourinho made no excuses about the quality of the spectacle, which was fairly drab given the pressure which Chelsea’s defence and midfield put on United’s creative talent.

“We know the way they want to play and we didn’t give them that game,” Mourinho said. “On our first day this week I asked the players ‘Do you want to enjoy the game or do you want to enjoy after the game’. And the players said ‘After the game’.

“The game was not very enjoyable, because it was one where you have to think a lot, control your emotion and control the opposition, and think about many tactical points. “It’s not easy... and the boys did it in a brilliant way.”

United manager Alex Ferguson was left to rue that Drogba’s strike came so late in the day.

“You can’t do much about it when they come as late as that, I’m afraid,” said the Scot. “The players are too tired to mount any real challenge so late in the game.

“Two or three players looked tired after an exhausting season... I think Cristiano (Ronaldo) looked tired.”

Ronaldo, whose scintillating form this season won him two awards as Footballer of the Year voted by players and by football writers, had a quiet game.

Mourinho said Ronaldo was unable to shine because he was kept quiet by another Portuguese, defender Paulo Ferreira. “Paulo was magnificent,” Mourinho said.

As for the game, Ferguson said: “There was not enough attacking momentum from either side that deserved to win the match.”

Ferguson also felt United should have had a penalty when Ryan Giggs was challenged by Chelsea’s Michael Essien as he tried to score in the first half of extra-time.

The captain’s effort sent the ball into Chelsea keeper Petr Cech’s arms and it appeared to cross the line as the Welshman’s momentum carried him into the Chelsea ’keeper. No goal was awarded.

“It was a penalty kick,” Ferguson said. “That was the decision that should have been taken. I don’t think the linesman was in a position to see clearly if that ball was over.

“But there’s no question (about) Essien... the referee was in a really good position and should have seen that. It was a penalty on Giggs.”

United’s Cristiano Ronaldo said the goal was not given because referee Steve Bennett and his colleagues had been under pressure from Chelsea. “The ball was half a metre over the line and the referee saw it but he did not give it,” the 22-year-old Portuguese said.

“The referee was under pressure all week from Chelsea. But it’s over now,” he shrugged. “That’s football and we are still champions.”

Looking back over the season, Ferguson summed up: “Like athletes, you have to prioritise your whole season — the Premier League was really important to us and we achieved that.

“Yes, it was disappointing we were knocked out of the semi-finals of the European Cup... and the FA Cup final, given our record in it, was disappointing.

“It’s hard to take...but the important thing is to accept it and get on with it.”

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