Champions League – Scolari salutes match-winner Drogba
Luiz Felipe Scolari hailed Didier Drogba as “one of the best strikers in the world” after Chelsea reached the Champions League last 16.
Substitute Drogba climbed off the bench to grab the Blues’ winner in a 2-1 victory over CFR Cluj, and Scolari believes he must now find a way to accommodate both the Ivorian and Nicolas Anelka in his side.
Anelka has bagged 15 goals so far this season, while Drogba’s campaign has been hampered by a knee injury and suspension.
But the Ivorian upstaged Anelka against Cluj by coming on in the 65th minute and firing the winner six minutes later.
It enabled Chelsea to finish second in Group A behind Roma, but while Drogba took all the plaudits, Scolari insisted he still had to find a place in his side for both of them.
“Drogba is one of the best strikers in the world,” said Scolari. “I have more options now he is fit. But he didn’t have a pre-season build-up because of injury and when he came back he got injured again.
“Then he was suspended and now he is back again. But it gives me a chance to play a different system sometimes. Before he was fit, I could not do that.
“He is important but don’t forget we are second in the Champions League group and second in the Premier League because our top scorer is Nicolas Anelka.
“Drogba is one of the best in the world but I need to think about Anelka. He is as important as Drogba. After this, it is my job to put the two together.”
Chelsea’s second place in the group means they will have to play the second leg of their knockout tie away from home.
But Scolari, who says he feels ‘zero pressure’ as Chelsea coach, insists he does not fear anyone.
“I don’t get to choose,” said Scolari. “For me it is not difficult if we play Barcelona, Real Madrid or any team because they are the best.
“If we want to arrive in the final games, we need to win.”
But Scolari’s blushes were spared when Drogba, who refused to speak after the game, scored the vital winner.
“I think we played well, but not very well,” said Scolari. “We had more of the ball but they did well on the counter-attack.
“They have a very good group and good spirit and I like some of the Cluj players.
“We played with spirit and fight. Maybe some of my players made mistakes but the others helped them. All of my players are important not just one. We played as a team today.”
Cluj coach Maurizio Trombetta was disappointed that his side could not go on to beat Chelsea after giving them an almighty scare.
Cluj finished bottom of Group A, but Trombetta insisted their first campaign in the competition had given them much valuable experience.
“Unfortunately Chelsea managed to score again after we had equalised,” said Trombetta.
“Maybe Chelsea were a little bit nervous and when we scored maybe there was little less in their playing capacity but in the end they managed to get another goal and win.
“But obviously playing in the Champions League has been a very useful experience for the players and the club.”