18 Feb 2015

Mourinho hails phenomenal Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

José Mourinho praised Thibaut Courtois’ performance as “phenomenal” after the Belgian’s saves helped earn Chelsea a critical draw at Paris Saint-Germain, and the manager admitted five of his players had been unable to train before the first leg in France.

Courtois, recalled despite Petr Cech excelling in the victory over Everton last Wednesday, conjured fine saves to thwart Blaise Matuidi and, most impressively, Zlatan Ibrahimovic deep into stoppage time to deny PSG an advantage with which to travel to London next month. Instead Chelsea will cling to Branislav Ivanovic’s precious away goal as they seek to force passage into the quarter-finals for the seventh time in nine years.


Mourinho praised the impact made by both his goalkeepers when appraising Courtois’ display. “If football was about having nine outfield players plus two goalkeepers, we would give no chance to anyone,” said the Chelsea manager. “We would be absolutely phenomenal because they’re both phenomenal.”

Asked specifically whether the Belgian had saved his team, he added: “Yes. Phenomenal. He made two or three important saves in the game. But this was a difficult opponent and my team gave everything. Many times you know an injured player who cannot play. Most of the times you don’t know the players who have problems and try, with the medical staff and technical department, to play.
The visitors had controlled the opening period, earning their reward when Ivanovic nodded in a seventh Champions League goal since 2009, a tally no other defender can match. PSG emerged revitalised after the interval and equalised through Edinson Cavani.
The French club’s players and management were united in their praise of Courtois. Ibrahimovic called him “world-class”. “We didn’t win the game tonight because of a great performance by their goalkeeper,” said David Luiz, who had scored an own-goal in this fixture while playing for Chelsea last season. “Without him, we would have won. He was great. But we controlled the game, they scored from their one opportunity and I think we can go through over there.”

“What amazes me is that Courtois, despite his height, is still very quick,” said Laurent Blanc. “I watched the two headers he saved from Ibrahimovic and he moves so quickly on his feet to react to both of them. He’s one of the top goalkeepers in the world. Chelsea know they have one of the greatest keepers out there.”
Credit: Dominic Fifield/Guardian Sport

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