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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Chelsea's Grant praises match-winner Cech

Chelsea boss Avram Grant hailed the match-winning performance of goalkeeper Petr Cech last night, just hours after the Czech Republic international had become a father for the first time.

Cech was the star of Chelsea's Carling Cup semi-final success over Everton at Goodison Park.

Cech's wife Martina - back home in Prague - gave birth to a baby girl, Adela, in the early hours of yesterday morning as the Chelsea star was asleep in the team hotel.

Grant said: 'He did not make a mistake, and is certainly amongst the best in the world.

'He had a long night awake, talking to his family on the phone back home in Prague. He was delighted with his new baby and overjoyed for his wife.

'And after all that emotion he was able to play a game like that to get Chelsea to Wembley.'

Defender Ricardo Carvalho also praised Cech, who produced four outstanding saves to keep Everton at bay to ensure Chelsea won the second leg of the tie 1-0 and progressed 3-1 on aggregate. They will now face Tottenham in the final on February 24.

Carvalho said: 'Petr was magnificent. He kept a clean sheet, produced some outstanding saves and he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He proved that at Goodison Park.'

Grant hailed his side's consistency, saying: 'Everybody has to respect what Chelsea have been doing in the last few months. We are winning a lot of games, not just in the league but in the Champions League and the cups.

'It is not easy, we have been without lots of players. People thought we would not succeed as much as before, but we are now in a Wembley final, we are four points off top spot in the league and in the next round of the Champions League. I am happy.

'We are in a very good position in everything. We will do everything to win every game. You can see how we have fought against Everton twice and Liverpool in the Carling Cup and we are now in the final.'

Everton boss David Moyes insisted that he is still looking for the magic extra ingredient that can turn his improving side into trophy-winners.

He said: 'We did well, but was it the luck of the bounce or poor positioning, I don't know. We had only a few chances and in semi-finals when things break, you have to take your chances. We didn't.

'We had a fine chance with a header from (Joleon) Lescott in the first half, if that had gone in it may have been different.

'It was a brilliant effort from the players, we played well in several periods of the game.

'But we need to find that bit extra that gets you to cup finals, that wins semi-finals. We need to find that special, magic, ingredient.'

He added: 'It might be the quality of the players. Chelsea have some top-quality players. But we gave it good go, even if there was a lapse in concentration that gave them their goal. That should not have happened.

'Their counter-attacking was superb. (Claude) Makelele was outstanding, as were their two centre-backs and the goalkeeper. That was the difference.

'By the end of this season we will find out whether we have that special ingredient. But to try to beat one of the best sides in the country over two legs was always going to be tough.

'We were very close in both games, they have been tight. On another night it could have fallen for us, but not this time.

'We now want to do well in the UEFA Cup, that is what we must be focused on while we are also pleased with the way we are doing in the league.

'We need to be better, but we are close. We do not want to wait much longer and I hope we learn from this experience.

'The fans were tremendous, they appreciated that the players gave everything. And as a club we are making progress, but I now want the next bit to get into the top four.'




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