Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo feels the senior players in the Blues' camp - including Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard - played a crucial part in the club's stunning 1-0 win against Barcelona, in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie. Additionally, Di Matteo also believes the Blues, who now hold the advantage ahead of the second leg, have successfully silenced all their critics despite Barcelona dominating most parts of the game.
"In the past, a lot of people have had the opinion that our boys were over the line and too old to play at this level. It was not just Didier, but a lot of players in our squad, that they said couldn't play two games in such a short period of time. They gave their answer on the pitch tonight," ESPN quoted Di Matteo as saying.
The 41 year old Italian boss also feels English centre-back Gary Cahill (who was stepping in for the injured David Luiz) played a vital role in Chelsea's victory over Barcelona.
"It was a bit of a baptism for Gary. He has not played much in the Champions League and it was a difficult game. But I am very pleased that he played so well, as did the whole back four," he added.
However, Drogba, the lone goal scorer of the match, has warned his Chelsea teammates to be focused and composed ahead of their second leg at the Nou Camp in Barcelona. He said the Blues would need to score at the Nou Camp if they were to progress to the finals of the Champions League.
"We have to go there now and try to score another one. Who knew that would mean Barca having to score three, something they could easily have done had they not wasted the five gilt-edged chances that fell their way. That's football and I think we were a bit lucky. You have to work for luck to come and to happen. We worked a lot. We worked hard," The Daily Mail quoted Drogba as saying.
Chelsea, who have already played two important semi-finals in rapid succession, against Tottenham and Barcelona, will certainly be exhausted but they will have to push on for a couple of more weeks as their next game - against league rivals Arsenal - could decide if they will be in competition to secure Champions League football next season.
"It's a difficult week, difficult 10 days for us after Spurs, this game, and then Arsenal, and then again Barcelona. It's going to be an important, very decisive week for us, and I think we're up for it," Drogba added.
Incidentally, should Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League by finishing at least fourth in the Premier League, their only hope of playing in the continent's elite tournament next year is to win this season's trophy.