Although Salomon Kalou was delighted to score what could prove a crucial away goal in Chelsea FC's 2-1 defeat by FC Internazionale Milano, the forward said he found it difficult to celebrate his equaliser in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round first leg out of respect for his former coach José Mourinho.
It is a measure of the high esteem in which Mourinho is held by his one-time Chelsea players that Kalou, a surprise inclusion in the visiting side at San Siro, had reservations about revelling in his fine strike, which was expertly curled past Júlio César on 51 minutes. The softly spoken Kalou, whom Mourinho brought to Stamford Bridge from Feyenoord in 2006, is clearly grateful to his former mentor and did not want to make a scene.
"It was a great feeling to score," he told UEFA.com. "I was happy but it was difficult to celebrate scoring against José because he's the manager who brought me to Chelsea and I have great memories of him. It's not easy to celebrate scoring against the one who gave you the opportunity to be where you are."
Kalou has struggled to find a regular place in an attack that boasts the quality of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, but injuries to Ashley Cole and Yuri Zhirkov meant Malouda was deployed at left-back, giving Kalou his chance. His goal was not enough to earn a draw, however, as Esteban Cambiasso added to Diego Milito's third-minute opener on 55 minutes to give the Nerazzurri the advantage.
"I think we deserved better," added the 24-year-old Ivory Coast international. "The early goal made us slow to get on our game but once we started to get going we played well and created more chances than Inter. But they came out with the right tactics, scored their goals at the right time and it paid off for them, so we have to focus on the return leg. We are playing at home and we need to win 1-0 to qualify."
Kalou remains confident of progressing to the quarter-finals, not least because Chelsea have been semi-finalists in four of the last five seasons. "I think the away goal could make the difference so we just need to build on that by scoring at home and not conceding any away goals ourselves. It will be a difficult match at Stamford Bridge, though, because I think they will sit back and wait for us to try and score. But now we have no choice. We have to win the game so that's what we'll do."
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