Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho sings praises of chart topping Chelsea

By Mark Bryans

Jose Mourinho heaped praise on his "impressive" Chelsea team for crushing Schalke 5-0 in Gelsenkirchen to cruise into the knockout stages of the Champions League.

An early goal from John Terry put Schalke - now managed by former Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo - firmly on the back foot and Willian promptly doubled up before Jan Kirchhoff scored an own goal to give Chelsea a 3-0 lead heading into the break.

Mourinho's men were rampant in the second half, too, with sub Didier Drogba's 50th Champions League goal two minutes before Ramires wrapped up the scoring.

Chelsea have won Group G before meeting Sporting Lisbon in the sixth match and will face a second-placed team from another pool in the last 32, a situation which brought a smile to the face of their Portuguese manager.

Mourinho said: "They played a fantastic match.

"At this moment the team is very mature, it's very confident and obviously to win 5-0 away in the Champions League is not normal.

"Five-nil in Germany is even less normal but the performance was very impressive.

"We are defending well because we are defending with 11 players and we were attacking well because we are very confident in ourselves and we use lots of players in the attacking process," he said.

"At this moment we are a good team. Obviously we can lose and a bad result is waiting for us but the team is playing really well and we have big self-belief."

Mourinho has previously dismissed Chelsea's run to the Europa League trophy under Rafael Benitez in 2013 and reiterated his belief that the Londoners belong at the top table.

He had insisted in the build-up that his side needed to keep up their good form to avoid blowing their place at the head of Group G and ending up playing in the Europa League.

"This team would go into the Europa League and win but that is not what we want," he added.

"We want to compete in the best competition against the best teams as that's very important for the evolution of the team and the prestige of our club.

"We did it (qualified) and we did it one game in advance. I think it's also important for us - in December, such a difficult month - to have one match against Sporting where we don't need the points to qualify or to finish first."

The Portuguese was also steadfast that he did not want to talk about Di Matteo's achievements at Stamford Bridge but did question whether the side the 44-year-old led to European Cup success in 2012 was a good one.

The two exchanged a cursory handshake before kick-off that lacked warmth but that was in stark contrast to the travelling Chelsea fans, who sang Di Matteo's name.

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