Hiddink warns Blues over mistakes
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink insists his side cannot afford to make sloppy mistakes against Barcelona on 6 May or they will be "exposed and punished". Hiddink's side strolled to a comfortable 3-1 victory over west London neighbours Fulham with goals from Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba.
Fulham replied with a goal from Norwegian striker Erik Nevland, but the Cottagers were never really in the hunt. But, despite the ease of Chelsea's win, Hiddink warned the FA Cup finalists must tighten up against Barcelona.
"You cannot afford to make the slightest error," said Hiddink. "I was not happy because we were sloppy in some positions and that's what I didn't like despite a good win.
"It's not just one position, it was a sequence of errors mostly. If we want to play a little bit for ourselves when we are not fully concentrated, then we give away chances, like we did against Fulham, but, if we do that on a higher level, you will be exposed and punished," said Hiddink. "I was happy with the result, but I don't shut my eyes to more moments in the game where we were sloppy."
Hiddink replaced defender Alex and midfielder Michael Essien at half-time, but insisted both of them will be fit for the UEFA Champions League semi-final return leg at Stamford Bridge on 6 May, the first match in Catalonia having finished 0-0.
"Alex had a slight problem with his groin, but I think he will be okay," Hiddink added. "We also wanted to protect Michael and that is why we made the change. We wanted to take the game in the league between our matches against Barcelona very seriously, but hopefully we can be in two finals at the end of May. That would be perfect."
Hiddink was pleased to see Anelka and Drogba produce some fine link-up play, but refused to say whether the pair would both be involved against the Catalans on Wednesday.
"It gives us more options," said Hiddink. "If you are a central defender, you wouldn't want to face them. They are strong and fast, but we didn't just choose this game, we play them together in practice as well."
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson claimed his side had been beaten but not "embarrassed" by Chelsea. Fulham lost goal-scorer Nevland with a dead leg in the first half, but Hodgson does not think the Norwegian striker will be missing for too long.
"Erik has a dead leg after colliding with John Terry. It was inadvertent and he had to come off," said the Cottagers manager. "Having waited so long for his chance, it was disappointing for him, but I don't think it's long term.
"Chelsea are a very good team. We were on level terms with them for one minute and then for another eight, but after that we were trailing. When you are playing a team as accomplished as Chelsea and you give the ball away, you know you will have problems," said Hodgson. "We were not at our best and their three goals all came from good counter-attacks. We were beaten, but not embarrassed."