Scolari lifted by Chelsea spirit

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Scolari admitted that Chelsea had not been at their best throughout what was a pulsating and evenly-contested 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Updated: September 22, 2008 16:38 IST
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Luiz Felipe Scolari believes the spirit Chelsea displayed to claim a point in their showdown with Manchester United augurs well for his new club's bid to wrest the Premier League title away from Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

Scolari admitted that Chelsea had not been at their best throughout what was a pulsating and evenly-contested 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

But the Brazilian was delighted with the show of grit that ultimately yielded an 80th-minute equaliser from Salomon Kalou after Park Ji-Sung had given United a first-half lead following an uncharacteristic fumble by Petr Cech.

The afternoon left Scolari sweating over how long he will have to do without centreback Ricardo Carvalho, who limped off after ten minutes, and playmaker Deco, who played no part on Sunday after injuring himself in the warm-up.

"Losing Deco was hard for us," Scolari admitted. "Our transition from midfield to attack was not ready for 15 to 20 minutes and they put us under a lot of pressure during that period and made a goal."

Although he admitted United had created as many goalscoring chances, Scolari believed his side had the better opportunities with Joe Cole squandering two good shooting opportunities and Nicolas Anelka fluffing an inviting Jose Bosingwa cross right at the death.

"I am happy with my players because they put their heart on the field," Scolari said. "They tried, sometimes not very well, but they tried.

"If we had had more quality in the final shot, we would have won this game. But they showed they have a fantastic spirit.

"We said before the game that (Michael) Ballack could only play maybe 45 minutes but he played for 70 minutes with a great spirit, trying to win the game.

"John Obi Mikel too, was fantastic. He was on the right, on the left, trying to win all the time. This is the spirit I want and it is the spirit Chelsea have so I am happy."

Kalou's header extended Chelsea's unbeaten home run in the league to 85 matches, but Scolari insisted such statistics meant nothing to him.

"I'm happy for the fans but for me the record is nothing. For me the only record that matters is if we win the championship."

Kalou's equaliser came after Scolari had thrown Didier Drogba, who has yet to start a match this season because of a knee injury, into the fray alongside Nicolas Anelka.

The two strikers are regarded by many as being too similar to be able to form an effective partnership but Scolari indicated he would keep trying to mould them together.

"We need to work more on it in training, they have only had two or three games together, then we will see if it is possible for them to play together."

Scolari also confirmed that he would be bringing in experienced Brazilian Mineiro, who is currently a free agent after being released by Hertha Berlin, as midfield cover following the recent loss of Michael Essien to a serious knee injury.

"Essien is out for six months and Obi Mikel is the only player we have left in that position, so Mineiro is a player I need," Scolari said.

"He will need time before he is ready to play, he will have to play some reserve games first but for me it will be very good to have one more player in this position rather than having to play someone like Paulo Ferreira or Michael Ballack out of position."

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