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Chelsea FC's Juliano Belletti heaped praise upon team-mate Didier Drogba after the Ivorian made a successful return from suspension to earn his side a 2-2 draw at Club Atlético de Madrid and with it a place in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round.
Sergio Agüero's stunning 66th-minute volley set the home side on course for an overdue opening victory in this season's group stage. However, in his first UEFA Champions League appearance this term Drogba struck twice in the final ten minutes to put Chelsea in front before Agüero levelled in added time. "Drogba is the number one player in his position as he's always likely to create danger and he is an incredibly hard worker," Belletti told uefa.com. "He scored his goals tonight but he also fought so much; he always makes the difference and what's more he helps out in defence."
Top spot sought
Former FC Barcelona player Belletti – who scored the Blaugrana's winner against Arsenal FC in the 2006 final – also had words of encouragement for an Atlético side he believes are turning a corner under new coach Quique Sánchez Flores. "Our opponents tonight obviously should be further up their domestic league table than they are. They were much better on this showing than we saw when they came to London," the Brazilian said before insisting Chelsea would not be taking it easy now that qualification had been achieved. "We're going to fight [with fellow qualifiers FC Porto] to be first because finishing top of the group holds its own advantages," the 33-year-old concluded.
Atlético's Juanito, meanwhile, remained philosophical despite his team seeing their chances of advancing to the next round disappear late in the game. "We almost had it won; we weren't even struggling at the back until the last ten minutes," the defender told uefa.com. "Obviously we can't reach our objective of qualifying for the next round of the Champions League now so we need to forget that and to focus on finishing third in the group [in order to qualify for the UEFA Europa League]," he said. "Even though this was just our third match under our new trainer we feel we're growing and we're playing a lot better."
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