Proud Deschamps hails 'inspirational' Morientes

6th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, May 5 (AFP) - Monaco coach Didier Deschamps hailed Spanish international striker Fernando Morientes as being the main reason why his side had become the first French side since Marseille in 1993 to reach the Champions League final.

LONDON, May 5 (AFP) - Monaco coach Didier Deschamps hailed Spanish international striker Fernando Morientes as being the main reason why his side had become the first French side since Marseille in 1993 to reach the Champions League final.

Monaco went through after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in the second leg of their semi-final, to win 5-3 on aggregate here on Wednesday.

Morientes, probably the signing of the season when Deschamps took him on loan from Real Madrid, levelled the match in the second half to maintain his lead at the top of the scoring charts in the competition.

"Morientes is a very good player," said Deschamps, who captained France to the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 glory and also played in the 1993 Marseille team.

"He is the best of my team because mentally he is so strong.

"He is an inspiration to the younger players and such a good finisher, though I was a bit concerned when he missed two chances in the first-half as he usually doesn't," said Deschamps of Morientes, who is a three-time winner of the trophy in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

Prince Albert of Monaco, heir to the throne, also paid a tribute to the Spanish star.

"We had been a bit sloppy but then we pulled ourselves together and a great player got the decisive goal," he said.

Monaco - whose only previous European final was the 1992 Cup Winners Cup - came from 2-0 down with Hugo Ibarra, on loan from Porto the team they will meet in the final, grabbing a crucial goal in first-half injury-time.

Chelsea had looked to be on course for the final when Jesper Gronkjaer and Frank Lampard scored in the first-half to put them ahead on the away goals rule.

Deschamps said he had a simple message for his players at the half-time break.

"I told them just go out and play. We were just spectators during the first-half and Chelsea were very mobile.

"It is beyond the wildest dreams to get to the final.

"I am delighted and very proud of the players what they have achieved over the past eight months. They have a great spirit. It's down to them, not me. They have a lot of talent.

"Porto will be difficult. They have a lot of internationals and they won the UEFA Cup. Finals are a special thing. I lost a few as well," he said.

Monaco face the Portuguese champions - who beat Deportivo La Coruna on Tuesday - in the May 26 final at the German town of Gelsenkirchen.

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article