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Gala's Mancini rates Chelsea narrow favorites to progress

Galatasaray's coach Roberto Mancini reacts before the start of his team's Champions League soccer match against Chelsea at Turk Telekom Aren
Galatasaray's coach Roberto Mancini reacts before the start of his team's Champions League soccer match against Chelsea at Turk Telekom Aren

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Roberto Mancini rates Chelsea narrow favorites to reach the Champions League quarter-finals despite Galatasaray finishing the better side in the first-leg 1-1 draw.

The Turkish side's manager was relieved his open tactics in the first 25 minutes on Wednesday did not result in more than the one goal his team conceded.

But Galatasaray could have stolen victory after Aurelien Chedjou's equalizer midway through the second half cancelled out Fernando Torres's ninth-minute opener.

Mancini felt brave enough to suggest his team could finish the job in London having rated Chelsea's chances of success at 80 percent before the first leg.

"We should have started more aggressively. During the first 20 minutes we had too much respect for Chelsea and we made four or five mistakes, one of which resulted in the goal, but apart from that we played well," Mancini said.

"Seeing the second half, I think my players saw what we are capable of and we now know we can actually go through. It will be very difficult but we can go through. I think we have a 40 per cent chance."

Torres's early goal was the first scored by an English team in this last-16 round following Manchester City's 2-0 defeat to Barcelona, Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich and Manchester United's 2-0 setback at Olympiakos in other first-leg matches.

That was at least some consolation for Mourinho who was unhappy at his front line's failure to capitalize. "There are teams that score three goals when they find three chances. We are a team that scores one goal out of five chances.

"When it comes to the last choice, the finishing touch, the correct pass, we are not yet a team that delivers it and kills opponents. It's not a criticism of the strikers, it's just that's what we are in this moment."

But he praised Chelsea's fighting spirit. "My team, each and every one of them, give everything on the pitch, and they fight, they fight for each other," he said.

Mourinho also had praise for striker Didier Drogba, whose last action of a highly productive Chelsea career was scoring the penalty that secured the Champions League title in 2012.

"He is one of the best players in the world. When he comes to London he will have the best reception of his life, the reception he deserves as a club legend," said Mourinho before the second leg on March 18.

"But he wants to win and he will not be our friend for those 90 minutes on the pitch that he wants to win. He is still a striker and not a coach."

(additional reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Robert Woodward)

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