After regaining his breath following a thrilling night’s football, Roberto Di Matteo was quick to highlight the character shown by his side in coming from behind to book our place in the last eight of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday evening.
An injury-time penalty from substitute Eden Hazard forced extra-time against Manchester United after we had fallen behind three times on the night, before Daniel Sturridge and Ramires struck to put us in front for the first time, and although Ryan Giggs pulled a goal back at the death, it is us who progress into the quarter-finals and a date with Leeds United at Elland Road.
On Tonight’s Win
Di Matteo summarised a night of frenetic activity at Stamford Bridge, and was full of praise for his young side who worked hard to overcome United.
‘I am very pleased with the players tonight, who performed on the big stage and will play a big part in our season.
‘I think we showed on Sunday already that we have big characters in the dressing room and we had to show it again tonight. We showed big, big heart and passion and pride and didn’t want to lose this game. It was a very exciting game of football to watch, a typical cup game, quite open at times and a lot of mistakes from both teams, because there were a lot of young players involved in this game.
‘Over the last two days we have seen some exciting thrilling football games typical of cup competition and a lot of future stars in these games. That’s what we should promote, and not the other stuff.
‘We will have to assess the team over the next few days. Playing extra-time has taken more out of us than we would have liked but on the other hand spirit is sky high and when the mood is positive you feel the fatigue a little bit less.
‘We had a few suspensions tonight so people will be back for Saturday and we will see which players are freshest and most energised for Saturday.’
The rivalry between Chelsea and Leeds dates back to the 1970 FA Cup Final, and we haven’t met them since 2004. Since then we have been crowned champions three times, while they have languished in the Football League. Their chairman is former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates. Their manager, Neil Warnock, famously turned down the Chelsea job in 1991.
‘He has got his style of football and has to be respected. We will have plenty of time to think about that game,’ Di Matteo said of Warnock.
‘It’s always difficult to go and play away from home. Leeds and Chelsea have a bit of history so it will be an interesting game for us at Leeds.
‘We had a very successful time together at the club and he has always been very good to me, so I have good memories,’ he added on Bates.