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English Premiership

Mourinho rues missed Gala chance

CHEDJOU-GALAISTANBUL, February 27 – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho acknowledged that Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Galatasaray in Istanbul in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie had to go down as “an opportunity missed”.

The London club took an early lead through Fernando Torres at the Turk Telecom Arena, but they failed to capitalise on their good start and Galatasaray came back to equalise midway through the second half courtesy of Aurelien Chedjou.

That means the tie remains open ahead of next month’s return at Stamford Bridge, when it could have been over after half an hour in Istanbul.

“The first half was an opportunity missed. The second half was a fair result,” Mourinho said.

“In the first half we were the better team. We had three or four chances, but then they put more pressure on us and we were more defensive.

“We were comfortable defensively but conceded a goal at a corner, which I don’t like (but) I think it was a fair result.”

Chelsea may be top of the Premier League and closing in on the Champions League quarter-finals, but they have suffered at times from the lack of a clinical striker this season and the performance of Torres came as a tonic for Mourinho, although the tiring Spaniard was withdrawn with a quarter of the game remaining.

“I think now he’s having a very acceptable season,” Mourinho said of Torres, who has scored six times in five Champions League starts, but Chelsea still missed too many chances for their coach’s liking.

“That’s our team. Some other teams would score three goals, we have five chances and take one.

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“We create but we arrive in the last third of the pitch and the last decision – the correct pass, the right movement – is not correct.

“We are paying for that, but I cannot be critical. I just praise the fact that we had a very acceptable result in a stadium where it is not easy to play.”

Chelsea now turn their attentions back to the Premier League and two London derbies, away to Fulham and at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

And they do so as the only English side to avoid defeat, or even score a goal, in the Champions League in the last two weeks in the wake of poor results for Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United.

– Mancini plays the percentages –

Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini, the former City boss, dismissed doubts over the state of English football as he admitted his team remain very much the outsiders in the tie.

“The Premier League is the best championship in the world and Chelsea are one of the best teams,” said the Italian, whose own side are on a run of just one defeat in 20 matches.

His displeasure with Galatasaray’s start to the game was evident as he changed things tactically half an hour in, replacing winger Izet Hajrovic and introducing an extra central midfielder in Yekta Kurtulus, and that helped them eventually come back into the contest.

“We can’t show Chelsea the level of respect we showed them in the first half. They wanted to be able to counterattack us and we conceded too many of these.

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“We made three or four mistakes and played with fear.

“The game in London will be difficult but after this game we have a 40 percent chance to go through,” added Mancini, who had previously measured their prospects at just 20 percent.

Nevertheless, Mourinho refused to be drawn on Mancini’s comments, and also had a swipe at the man he replaced as Inter Milan coach in 2008 by crediting their performance on former coach Fatih Terim.

“They were good last year and they are good this year. Basically it’s the team that Fatih built. The team that was champions last year and got to the quarter-finals. So I think Fatih did a great work (sic),” said Mourinho.

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