ROBERTO DI MATTEO insisted Chelsea’s old boys silenced the whole of Europe after they stunned Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
Didier Drogba, 34, was the goal hero on an unforgettable night of Champions League drama as the Blues clung on to a first-leg lead.
And interim boss Di Matteo reckons the experience of Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Co will be decisive in Tuesday’s semi-final return at the Nou Camp.
He said: “Public opinion has been that a lot of these boys are over the line and too old to play two games in a row at this level. It wasn’t just Drogba.
“There were other players on that pitch who you regard as the ‘old guard’. But tonight they gave their answer to everyone.
“I decided to play Didier when I looked back on the FA Cup semi-final against Spurs and I thought that he was the right man for this game.
“It was a great result for us and an almost perfect night.”
Lampard, 33, Terry and Ashley Cole, both 31, also starred in Sunday’s 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham.
And they all played their part last night.
Drogba’s goal in first-half stoppage-time was Chelsea’s only shot on target while the Catalans boasted 79 per cent possession.
But Di Matteo said: “When you score a goal and win the game then you deserve it.
“We had prepared to do a lot of defending, to be patient.
“The boys were really determined not to let them through. We have a great team ethic. Young and old stay together and fight for the same target.”
Skipper Terry added: “It will go down as one of our best nights.
“It was a tireless performance and we didn’t touch the ball for the first 15 minutes. Didier was just incredible.”
Barca boss Pep Guardiola said: “If football was all about possession we would win every game.
“But the most difficult thing is putting the ball in the net, so congratulations to Chelsea.
“Our challenge is to create 24 chances again at the Nou Camp next week and score.”