Cech hails perfect result
Chelsea's Petr Cech concedes it has been a "strange season" for the club but is thrilled to still be fighting on two fronts. The Blues are on the brink of the UEFA Champions League final four after Salomon Kalou's late goal earned a 1-0 victory at Benfica in yesterday's quarter-final first leg.
The wins comes mere weeks after their European campaign seemed in tatters and Andre Villas-Boas was removed from the Stamford Bridge helm. Interim manager Roberto Di Matteo has overseen an impressive change in fortunes at Chelsea and, while their Premier League form still needs work, Cech is delighted to still be in Europe and the FA Cup semi-finals.
"I think we are living in a strange season," he said. "There were ups and down in the league and we are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup so we are still hunting for two trophies. We will have to see how we finish the season off but we have put ourselves in a very good position now.
"I think we can say [yesterday] was the perfect game for us in terms of result. We kept a clean sheet and were patient all game waiting for our chances to come and in the end we scored from a very good counter attack.
"Prior to that Juan Mata had chance when he did well to go round the keeper, but unfortunately the angle was too tight for him to score and he hit the post. But overall we can be really satisfied because in terms of the game plan we did really well. We didn't let them play in the first half, and in the second we waited patiently for our chance and then it came."
Chelsea head into next week's second leg in far more comfortable position than they did in the previous round against Napoli, where they trailed 3-1 after the first match. Despite that, Cech insists complacency will not be an issue at Stamford Bridge and refuses to think about finally getting his hands on a Champions League winner's medal.
"It is difficult to say [whether it will be our year]," he said. "We have to make the step first to qualify for the semi-final and then see if Milan or Barcelona will come. As I said, It is too early to think of the final as there is still a long way to go."
While coy about the Blues' chances, the Czech international was buoyed by the clean sheet at the Estadio da Luz and the performance of his backline. Right-back Paulo Ferreira was picked out for particular praise after impressing in his first start of 2012.
"Paulo is a fantastic player," Cech said. "He is really intelligent and knows exactly how to get ready for the big games. Unfortunately he doesn't have as much time as he would like to maybe, but every time he plays he gives the best for the team and that is why today he was very important and kept his guy quiet."
On his own performance and a wonderful point-blank save from Jardel, he added: "I was happy because they missed their chance and we punished them behind, which is often the case in football. Obviously I am really pleased because the clean sheet was important."