Jose Mourinho did what he usually does at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, out-thinking and outfoxing opponents who ended up battered, bruised and beaten.
Mourinho's tactical acumen caused Inter Milan team to send Chelsea slithering out of the Champions League, beaten far more comprehensively than the 1-0 score in the second leg suggests. The 3-1 aggregate result more accurately reflects another emphatic Mourinho success.
“I wanted to sow doubt and I saw doubt, (Branko) Ivanovic and Yuriy Stojkovic didnt know whether to attack or stay back, and it caused them real problems. Chelsea were frustrated, because today Inter were the better team,” Mourinho said.
But at the start of the press conferece after the match he still managed to thank the steward who gave him his favourite custard cream biscuits.
“He did this for me for three years and today as well,” Mourinho joked.
Apart from a League Cup defeat by Charlton Athletic on penalties, Mourinho only ever lost one match at Stamford Bridge in his electrifying reign at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007 — a Champions League tie to Barcelona in 2006.
Now although the self-proclaimed “special one” has been gone from south-west London for over two years the sight of him on the visitors' bench was a strange one.
The focus of every photographers' lens as he took his place next to the dugout in a smart overcoat, Chelsea blue silk-shirt and, somewhat ill-matching brown suede shoes, Mourinho sat passively in the pre-match build-up.
He was also unusually unemotional for the opening half hour, watching as his pre-match plan began to work to perfection as an effective attack of Diego Milito, Samuel Eto'o and hard-working Wesley Sneijder put Chelsea under increasing pressure.
He was far more animated in the second half, pointing this way and that as Inter worked as a brilliant defensive unit and thwarted a Chelsea side, who rarely moved out of second gear.
Eventually the one goal from Eto'o 12 minutes from the end sent Inter through to the last eight — and opened up a bigger picture for Mourinho than just seeing off his old mates from south-west London.
Inter have not been European champions since successive victories in 1964 and 1965, but after this win Mourinho, who took Porto to the European title in 2004, can be forgiven for dreaming of winning the European Cup again. Asked if he thought this victory was as good as winning the title he replied: “I hope that my biggest success is still in the future,” he said.
Mourinho “the enemy”
Mourinho called himself “the enemy” on his return to the ground he still describes as home but the manager said even the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, would concede the better team had won.
Mourinho's former players departed with a familiar snarl and there were echoes of their controversial elimination by Barcelona a year ago as two credible penalty appeals were ignored, Didier Drogba was sent off and John Terry confronted the referee at the end before appearing to mouth “f***ing shit” at the fourth official on his way down the tunnel.
Drogba had been sent off three minutes from time for stamping on Thiago Motta's ankle. The striker received a four-match ban for abusing the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after Barça's 1-1 draw here last May, with two further games suspended for a probationary three-year period. That extra UEFA sanction is likely to come into effect. Mourinho put Chelsea's behaviour down to frustration.
“Yesterday someone asked me if I would still be special if I lost here,” he said. “But today I'm not so special for Chelsea supporters who will probably never forgive me. It was difficult coming to my home as an enemy, but that happened.”
Abramovich walked across the pitch after the match, as the Inter supporters bellowed Mourinho's name. “This [Chelsea] is a team that lost a semi-final with a goal that was not a goal [in 2005], lost a semi-final on penalties , lost a final on penalties , lost a semi-final in a game that they should have won 3-0 with three penalties that were not given [last year],” said Mourinho. “This is the story of this club and the story of these players. This is their history — one of frustration.
“They had the ambition to go through and they were frustrated because, immediately, they felt that Inter were the best team. I'm not saying Inter are better than them. I'm saying that, today, Inter were much better than Chelsea, from the first minute to the last minute, and that brought frustration to their players. My people will always be my people. But today I was the enemy. And the enemy won. That's life.”
Terry injures official in car accident
Chelsea captain John Terry accidentally struck a club security official with his car after the Champions League defeat to Inter Milan, the Premier League side revealed on Wednesday. The staff member sustained a leg injury in the incident, which happened as Terry was leaving his side's Stamford Bridge stadium after Tuesday's match. The 29-year-old centre-back was reportedly not aware of what had happened at the time but later spoke to police about it and also made contact with the member of staff involved.
"We can confirm there was an unfortunate accident as John Terry left Stamford Bridge last night," said a Chelsea spokesman on Wednesday.
"When driving out of the stadium at approximately one to two miles-per-hour in a queue of traffic exiting the ground, his car was surrounded by photographers and fans.