Manager Jose Mourinho hailed Inter Milan's "almost perfect" display after a triumphant return to Stamford Bridge. "We were the best team by far," he said after a 1-0 win, 3-1 on aggregate, sent Chelsea out of the Champions League.
"We deserve this victory, this must be almost a perfect performance. Chelsea had reactions of frustration, of a team that felt the opposition was stronger. "They tried to get back with conflict, long balls and diving in the box but I think everything we did was superior."
Mourinho received a warm welcome from the Chelsea supporters prior to kick-off in the second leg of the last 16 - his first competitive return to the club where he won two Premier League titles in three seasons before leaving in 2007.
But his new side produced a professional display against his former players and Chelsea fans were left with the enduring image of Mourinho doing his best to tone down his celebrations for Samuel Eto'o's second-half goal, which secured Inter's quarter-final place.
"I love Chelsea, I love this stadium, I love these people but I am a professional," stated Mourinho, who emerged from the tunnel before his players to take his seat in the Stamford Bridge dugout ahead of kick-off. "I celebrated a lot in the dressing room. I'm happy because I won. I am not happy my ex-players lost, because Roman [Blues owner Abramovich] lost or because the fans go home unhappy.
"It is a very important victory for me as a coach but it is not the victory of my life. It was hard to prepare myself to come here as an enemy. "I exchanged some text messages with [Chelsea captain] John Terry before the game and I told him someone will go home happy and someone sad. My people will always be my people but I was the enemy - and the enemy won. That's life. "Somebody asked if I would still be special if I didn't win. Now I can say I am not so special to the Chelsea supporters, who will probably never forgive me."
The Italian giants travelled to London with a slender 2-1 lead and Mourinho ditched his normally defensive tactics with an attacking formation that reaped dividends.
Mourinho insisted he would still be "The Special One" whether Inter won or lost, but the arrival of Inter's teamsheet was the first sign that he did not regard defeat as a serious option. "The team accepted the risks that I took - and you don't always get that as a manager. I don't think it was tactics, it was attitude on the pitch," he added.
Mourinho also left the door open for a possible return to the Premier League. "Who knows, in the future I may coach another English team and I will come here [again] as an opponent," he said.
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti had no complaints about the result that meant the Blues failed to reach the final eight for the first time since 2006. "We didn't play how we wanted to. Inter put some pressure on our midfield and we had a lot of difficulty," conceded Ancelotti, who saw Blues striker Didier Drogba sent off in the 87th minute for kicking Thiago Motta.
"We played better in the first game and now were not able to repeat the same play so Inter deserved to win." The Italian added that Chelsea's early Champions League exit increased expectations for the remainder of the season.
The Blues are second behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League and have a spot in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Ancelotti commented: "I think the players were disappointed at the end of the game because we lost. Nothing special happened. "I'm disappointed because we lost and are out of a very important competition. I want to say best wishes for Inter because I have nothing against Mourinho or against Inter.
"Now we have two important competitions we want to win. We'll have more pressure on the next few games but we must be strong and have good control of our emotions. "Maybe this defeat could be a very good motivation for the next few games. We have to be strong after this defeat. We have to have a new motivation, a good motivation, for the future."
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