Ivanovic hails Blues revival
Branislav Ivanovic has compared Chelsea's resurgence since Andre Villas-Boas' sacking to their incredible end to the season after Luiz Felipe Scolari lost his job. Defender Ivanovic wrote his name into Stamford Bridge folklore last night with the winning goal in the Blues' historic UEFA Champions League last-16 triumph over Napoli.
An "emotional" Ivanovic hailed his extra-time clincher - which sealed an amazing comeback after Chelsea's 3-1 first-leg defeat three weeks earlier - as the greatest moment of his career. And he drew parallels between the turnaround overseen by caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo and that masterminded by Guus Hiddink in 2009.
Hiddink lost just one match at the helm as Chelsea won the FA Cup and were controversially denied a second successive Champions League final appearance. Like three years ago, the Blues are in danger of failing to qualify for next season's competition, and Ivanovic said: "When it's something new, you try to do everything, try to change the season. The same thing happened when Scolari left the club. We tried to do everything and I think this is quite a similar situation like that one."
Hiddink quickly rebuilt the confidence shattered under Scolari and Di Matteo looks to have doe the same since Villas-Boas' exit. Ivanovic added: "We have to believe. We have to play a lot of games like this at a good level, good intensity, show good football, to deserve some trophies. It's going to be difficult. This is only one game and we will try to do everything."
Di Matteo has also embraced the old guard, who were sidelined at times by Villas-Boas and they responded last night, with Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard scoring goals. "John gave the maximum," Ivanovic said of Terry, who limped off in extra-time in what was his second game since his remarkable recovery from knee surgery.
"He was injured and, three weeks ago, he was lost for this game. He was great and scored as well and Didier was fantastic, was like an animal on the pitch - Frank as well. Everybody was good and that's why it got the result for us."