CAHILL: DIGGING IN
Gary Cahill admitted to being more nervous as a spectator than he had been as a player in the wake of our unforgettable 2-2 draw in Barcelona, a result which saw us book our place in next month's Champions League final.
The Blues, reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when John Terry was dismissed, showed tremendous resilience to come back from 2-0 down in the Camp Nou and earn a 2-2 draw, courtesy of a sublime Ramires chip and a Fernando Torres strike right at the death.
Cahill's night came to a premature end when he pulled his hamstring attempting to make a block and was replaced by Jose Bosingwa, but during a tight, nervy second half in which the Blues had virtually every man behind the ball, the tension was simply too much for the 26-year-old to take.
'I'm hoping the injury is not as bad as first thought, I turned awkwardly and my studs got caught in the turf, I just felt a pop at the top of my hamstring,' said Cahill.
'They tried to make the substitution early, but I didn't want that at all, that's why I had to give it another five minutes to see if it was alright. Just jogging about it didn't feel too bad, but it wasn't until the ball went in behind me and I had to sprint that I realised I'd done something to it.'
With our three first-choice central defenders off the pitch, even the most ardent Chelsea supporter would have been forgiven for fearing the worst when Andres Iniesta made it 2-0 to the Spaniards a few minutes before the break.
In recent months, however, Roberto Di Matteo's side have shown their mental toughness on countless occasions, and it rose to the fore once again as we repelled attack after attack, before eventually securing a 3-2 aggregate victory, and Cahill insisted that while a quick recovery is his main priority, he simply cannot wait to play his part in an exciting climax to the campaign.
'When Fernando scored I tipped the tunnel area where we were watching the game upside down, everything went over. I can't explain the nerves, being involved you feel more in control,' he said.
'I couldn't watch it, when they hit the post and had a goal disallowed I just thought it was bound to be our night, but it was an amazing effort by the players, going through with 10 men against a fantastic team is unbelievable.
'Hopefully David Luiz isn't too far away, JT [John Terry] is alright, but for me to miss these games coming up it [the muscle] will have to be torn to shreds. I was so excited when the final whistle went, I was in the changing room, I've never been as nervous watching a game. I was probably four times as nervous than I was at the start of the game. It was a horrible feeling but nonetheless an amazing feeling when Fernando went through and sealed it for us.'
John Mikel Obi, meanwhile, so impressive over the course of the two legs, will be hoping when the Blues arrive for the final on 19 May he will see his name among the starting 11 on Di Matteo's team sheet, unlike in Moscow back in 2008.
'When we lost him [Terry] we knew it was going to a very difficult night, but we knew we had to dig deep, keep defending and hopefully things would go our way,' he said.
'You have to put in a shift, make sacrifices and run for the team. We're very happy, and we're very pleased with our performance tonight.
'I'm very happy, the last time we were there I didn't get to play so hopefully this time I will.'