Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hiddink admits Defeat in League Title

Guus Hiddink is ready to concentrate on a cup double after conceding Chelsea are realistically out of the race for the Premier League title.

Hiddink insisted that it was now time to focus on the Champions League and the FA Cup after their goalless stalemate against Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea face Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Nou Camp next Tuesday and Hiddink is considering giving some of his players a rest against West Ham on Saturday.

He is already without centre-half Ricardo Carvalho for the trip to Spain, the Portuguese having suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem.

But in a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final at the end of May, Chelsea and Everton served up an entertaining draw that was dominated by goalkeepers.

Chelsea's Petr Cech and Everton's Tim Howard produced fine solo performances to preserve the deadlock which, coupled with Manchester United's 2-0 victory over Portsmouth, put an end to any remaining title ambitions for Hiddink's side.

The Blues are six points adrift of leaders United who have a game in hand and Hiddink knows the title is no longer a realistic ambition.

"It is difficult but we now have to focus on only two other roads - the Champions League and, later on in May, Everton again in the FA Cup final,'' admitted Hiddink.

"Everyone is disappointed. We knew it was difficult to go for the title so when you drop two points there is disappointment of course. But this team is able to cope with that and focus ourselves on the difficult game against Barcelona next week.''

Cech starred in the opening half when he twice denied Everton striker Jo and then midfielder Tim Cahill.

In the second period it was the turn of Howard to keep Chelsea at bay as he prevented Lampard and Kalou from scoring with fine saves.

Ivorian hitman Didier Drogba almost won it for Chelsea when his volley crashed against the crossbar in stoppage time but Steven Pienaar and Cahill also squandered late chances to win it for the Toffees.

The result kept Everton in sixth place, a point behind Aston Villa, but boss David Moyes determined to overhaul them.

"It means a lot to me to finish fifth,'' said Moyes. "If we do it this year it will be four top-six finishes out of five. So what we've done is a decent effort and Everton are becoming a side that is competing at a top level.''

Moyes paid tribute to his players who produced another hardworking performance after their gruelling victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final at the weekend.

"It was a good point under the circumstances after playing 120 minutes on Sunday,'' said Moyes. "We didn't have a massive amount of recovery before coming here to play a team who are in good form. So I think a point was a good result for us.

"The players have been playing great all season and I have to say well done to them. This was another terrific effort from them.

"We had some good chances but I thought Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott were terrific at the back.''

No comments :

Post a Comment