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Chelsea created enough chances for Willian to net a hat-trick against Barcelona, says Fabregas

By Carl Markham

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas admitted Barcelona's equaliser took the gloss off a good night's work from his side.

Lionel Messi broke his goal duck against the Blues to deny Antonio Conte's side a crucial lead over Barcelona in their Champions League showdown.

The Argentinian superstar had not scored in his previous eight meetings against Chelsea, but he put that anomaly right with 15 minutes left to secure a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had gone ahead through Willian, who had earlier been twice denied by a post.

Former Barca ace Fabregas said: "It is such a shame really. I thought we were very good, we executed the game plan really well, we were compact, solid, played as a team and created lots of chances - Willian could have had a hat-trick - but we go home sad because a fantastic performance is not a fantastic result.

"It is still open though and we have shown that we can compete and we will need another excellent performance at the Nou Camp to go through.

"You have to have a lot of personality to play against this team who have over 70% of the ball.

"We have to go there to attack and score because 90 minutes defending at the Nou Camp is an eternity, it is a suicide mission. We have to play our game."

Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last eight Champions League games with Barcelona.

Goalscorer Willian said: "I'm happy for the goal but I'm a bit sad with the result. I think we deserved to win - they had more possession but we created dangerous chances. We have to go there and play the same game.

"I was a bit unlucky (hitting the post twice). I have to keep on working and look forward to the other games."

Despite being the away side, the La Liga giants enjoyed 73% possession.

Only three of Barcelona's starters - Luis Suarez, Paulinho and goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen - had fewer touches than Chelsea's most involved player - Victor Moses with 58 touches.

Blues boss Conte, who revealed he had experienced trouble sleeping ahead of the match, will be having nightmares about the equaliser with his side unable to hold on for a crucial advantage to take to the Nou Camp for the second leg in three weeks' time.

"We were very close to the perfect game," he said. "One mistake and we know very well when you make a mistake against Barcelona and players like Messi, Suarez and (Andres) Iniesta you pay.

"It is a pity. I am very proud of my players. They followed what I had prepared for them. It's a pity. Tonight we were a bit unlucky.

"I think when you play this game you must have a plan and respect the characteristics of the opponent. Our plan was really good.

"The effort of the players was great, we are talking about 1-1 and maybe we deserved more."

The result at Stamford Bridge means that none of the English teams have lost in their last-16 first-leg ties so far.

As well as Chelsea's draw, Liverpool beat Porto 5-0, Manchester City defeated Basel 4-0, Tottenham drew 2-2 at Juventus and Manchester United play away at Sevilla tonight.

Belfast Telegraph

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