In terms of the UEFA Champions League Fernando Morientes has pretty much seen and done it all. He has three winners' medals, one souvenir of losing to José Mourinho's FC Porto with AS Monaco FC and even a squad place with Liverpool FC as an ineligible player during that incredible night in Istanbul nearly two years ago.
This time he thought he had paid Mourinho back for that 2004 final heartbreak. The Spaniard led the Valencia CF line bravely despite being short of full fitness, hit the post before scoring what looked temptingly like the crucial goal and left his heart and soul on the Mestalla pitch before departing to a huge ovation five minutes past the hour with the teams locked together at 1-1 on the night and 2-2 overall. Again, however, it was not to be; Michael Essien's last-gasp winner knocked Valencia out of the competition and the club's first defeat against an English club in eleven Mestalla meetings means he and his team-mates must concentrate on domestic duties.
"It's a tremendously disappointing feeling losing at this stage of the Champions League but particularly given the way the game developed," said the 31-year-old, who returned from a shoulder problem to start the game. "I really believe around the time we went 1-0 up we had a reasonable amount of chances to make it two. Now, with all due respect to Chelsea, if we go two goals up at home then the match I think the result would have been totally different. From my own perspective I gave everything I had. I felt the lack of some of the training sessions I missed with my injury but I held on for as long as I could and offered everything I had."
Morientes found the experience of playing Chelsea both educational and frustrating, saying: "They were playing away from home and this is a difficult place to do well but in the second half they kept the ball really well and we simply couldn't get near enough to their goal to create good chances. They can't call this a clear victory but Chelsea did enough to deserve going through and they are a very good side indeed. Our task, now, is to get over this disappointment by working hard in our remaining Primera División games because there is enough time for us to reduce the gap and be in contention to win the championship by the end of the season."
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