IVANOVIC: CRUCIAL CHARACTER

Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

Last night was not the first time Branislav Ivanovic has emerged as a Champions League hero for Chelsea, but the goalscorer of our decisive fourth goal against Napoli insists it was a team effort that saw us through to the last eight.

The defender, who had moved from the right to centre-back following John Terry's injury, popped up just before half-time in extra-time to smash the ball high into the Napoli net, giving us an outright lead in the tie for the first time, and recalling memories of his two-goal salvo at Anfield three years ago.

Speaking after the game with Madness' 'One Step Beyond' still ringing around Stamford Bridge, the Serbian explained that the unlikely victory could now be a turning point in the season.

'It was a crucial game of our season and we started well and scored, which gave us extra confidence,' said the 28-year-old. 'It was difficult after we conceded the goal but we got another and played like a team and showed character. This kind of game can change our season.

'It doesn't matter who scored and how isn't important, but it can change a lot of things for the team and give us extra confidence. All the team is very happy to qualify for the next round. We felt before the game we could do this, and came into the game very strong. The big guys know how to play these games and we are strong on these days, everybody can see this and we have to try to stay at this level in the next period.

'We were two goals down from the first leg and knew what we had to do. We played like a team and gave everything to qualify for the next round. It was very difficult but everybody is happy because we did it.'

We now go into Friday's draw for the quarter-finals where we will discover our next opponents, and potential semi-final opposition also, but after the drama of Wednesday night, Ivanovic insists there are no preferences in the last eight.

'It just matters that we have qualified and we will wait for the draw,' he shrugged. 'You can't choose who you play and who you avoid.'