After waiting 93 minutes for a breakthrough at home to Everton José Mourinho joked about killing the Champions League tie against Galatasaray in Wednesday's first leg. "Ideally I would prefer to go there and win 10-zero," the Chelsea manager said.
There are several reasons why that might not happen, beginning with the fact that Chelsea have begun to find goals hard to come by. "Obviously we have some limitations," Mourinho accepted, after conceding a scoreless draw would have been a fair result and that Everton could consider themselves slightly unlucky to leave empty-handed.
With Demba Ba relegated to the periphery and Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres taking it in turn to fire blanks in front of goal, the return of Champions League football and a reunion with Didier Drogba threatens to underline the point that Chelsea have never satisfactorily replaced the Ivorian striker Mourinho recruited from Marseille when he first arrived in England. Drogba is 36 next month and is not quite as prolific as he once was, although he is still capable of leading the line and providing an attacking outlet in a more authoritative manner than any of his successors have managed.
"He's still good, still a threat," Mourinho said. "It will be a strange feeling playing against him because we know him so well but as a manager I have come up against him before. We played Chelsea when I was at Internazionale and he was at Galatasaray when Real Madrid played them last season. We [Real Madrid] lost in Istanbul. They had us in trouble but Galatasaray is always a difficult place to go to; the crowd is difficult too. Before the game and after the game it will be big respect for Didier, we will always be big friends because he is a real legend of the Chelsea club. But during the game we will not be friends and we know as well that Galatasaray have a very experienced team with many more big players."
Romelu Lukaku has been touted at various stages of his career as the nearest thing to a like-for-like replacement for Drogba, although Mourinho usually remains non-committal on the subject. Everton knew they would be unable to select their on-loan striker against his parent club and it was their misfortune to lose his understudy, Lacina Traoré, to a hamstring injury in the warm-up. That set the pattern for a brisk and evenly contested battle mostly fought in midfield, with wide players or defenders producing most of the attempts on goal. Neither goalkeeper was worked especially hard, though Tim Howard made a marvellous double save from Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic, and Petr Cech was twice called on to deny Leon Osman.
Mourinho was magnanimous enough to accept that Everton played a good possession game and dominated parts of the match, although he could afford to be after John Terry's scrambled late winner. The Chelsea manager was also correct in stating that his side was the stronger in the closing stages of the game, thanks in part to the introduction of Ramires at half-time.
Everton were fighting a rearguard for the last 10 minutes or so and, when the fourth official indicated five minutes of stoppage time, it seemed an almost unreasonable span to survive. So it proved for, after Ramires had made the most of a questionable challenge by Phil Jagielka, Frank Lampard swept in a free-kick and Terry flung himself at the ball to divert it in off Howard at the far post. Roberto Martínez was unimpressed.
"It was a soft free-kick, I don't think Ramires was fouled," the Everton manager said. "I couldn't see Chelsea scoring from open play but they are very good at piling pressure on opponents and referees in the late stages of the game. They know every trick in the book and it is very difficult for officials to get every decision right. I can be happy with the performance, we were magnificent for an hour, but in the end it is the scoreline that matters. We need to make sure that when we play well we get the points we deserve."
Man of the match Sylvain Distin (Everton)