Chelsea won their group on Wednesday, with a 2-0 victory over FC Porto at Stamford Bridge. That victory had manager Jose Mourinho doing his best impression of a smile, and he was most pleased with the way his squad responded in a match where a draw would see them through:
‘The thing that I’m most happy with, apart from the result, is the fact we needed a point to qualify and the players accepted the challenge of playing to win. That’s not easy when the moment is bad, results are negative and pressure is high. They were brave to accept that challenge. Apart from that I felt the first goal was fundamental. When we scored they were in a difficult position because they needed to win, a point wasn’t enough for them. We knew we could conceded a goal and still qualify.'
‘What gives me confidence is the fact that we have been playing okay for the last couple of months, the results haven’t been as good as the work we do every day and the way the players are playing. We could have had different results against Stoke, Tottenham, Bournemouth.'
‘The piece of luck we had with the first goal tonight we’ve never had in the Premier League. It was a great decision by the official on the goal-line and we never get that in the Premier League, despite the fact it’s goal-line technology.'
‘When the game started both teams were under pressure, when we scored the first goal the picture was different. We were more calm, more relaxed, the players could be in control of the game and the situation for Porto was more difficult.’
Wednesday's result should lift some of the pressure the squad is facing, though there is still little chance that the Blues manage to finish where they'd have liked in the Premier League this season. Mourinho also addressed that competition, and his hopes for the next five months:
‘The Premier League boss said in an interview it would be good for the league if Chelsea were not champions, but he didn’t say it’s not good for the Premier League if Chelsea finish fourth, so while mathematically it’s still possible let’s fight for every game and every point and see if it’s possible to finish fourth.'
‘A team which is struggling as we are is obviously not a candidate to win the Champions League because you have the best teams in Europe, but when we won it with Porto in 2004 we were not candidates. When we won it with inter in 2010 we were not candidates. When we were candidates with Real Madrid we lost two semi-finals, and we lost two semi-finals with Chelsea as well, so let’s see, you never know.’
With any luck, we'll start to turn those good performances into wins, and a top four finish will remain mathematically possible for quite a while. Well done on Wednesday, boys.