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History was repeated on a night of excruciating tension at Anfield as Liverpool overcame Chelsea to reach their seventh final in Europe's premier club competition.
This time they emerged victorious in a penalty shoot-out and leaving José Mourinho to explain a third successive Champions League failure to the notoriously unforgiving Roman Abramovich. Liverpool will face Manchester United or AC Milan in Athens on May 23 after a 1-0 victory on the night – Daniel Agger's first-half goal forcing extra time – and a 4-1 win on spot-kicks, Dirk Kuyt converting the decisive penalty to spark delirious celebrations after José Manuel Reina, Liverpool's shoot-out expert, denied Arjen Robben and Gérémi. Mourinho later scoffed at suggestions that his position may be under renewed threat, but with Chelsea close to surrendering their Barclays Premiership title to United, he could have an unpleasant few weeks ahead, particularly if they fail to beat Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the FA Cup Final on May 19. Just as in the semi-final two years ago, when Luis GarcÍa's controversial goal sent Liverpool through, Mourinho was adamant that the better team had lost last night, but his views were ridiculed by Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, who added that the Chelsea manager's pre-match comments had succeeded only in rousing Anfield passions. "I think Mourinho did our team talk for us," Gerrard, one of Liverpool's successful penalty-takers, said. "He's great for the game, but he makes us laugh sometimes. It was a bit disappointing, him saying that we're a little club, but there you go – a little club who got to two European Cup finals in three seasons. That's not bad, eh?" Mourinho maintains that he never so much as implied that Liverpool are a small club, but he invited further laughter from the victorious dressing-room when he suggested that Chelsea had deserved to win. "He said this?" Rafael BenÍtez, the Liverpool manager, asked with a smile. "OK. But we're in the final and we want to enjoy that, not to talk a lot." Mourinho said: "You could see two teams there and the only team that wanted to win was the team in blue. We had the best chances in the first half, in the second half, in extra time. Chelsea was the team showing the appetite to win the game, but that's history now. "History will say that Liverpool reached the final and that Liverpool or Milan or Manchester United won the final. It will not remember that we were the better team in each game in the semi-final." It is a claim with which Gerrard begged to differ. "We deserved that," he said. "It's one of the best nights of my life. The first time around [in 2005] was special, but to do it again when we were 1-0 down to a great team like Chelsea is an incredible achievement. "There were so many factors – the atmosphere, the manager's tactics – but you have to give the players credit. We've got the best goalkeeper in the world. He’s just unbelievable at saving penalties."


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