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Friday 20 July 2018

Alonso: 'No time to dwell on Barca defeat'

Beaten: Marcos Alonso
Beaten: Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso says Chelsea have no time to dwell on their Champions League exit and must refocus on domestic duties and securing qualification for the competition next season.

Lionel Messi scored twice and made another as Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Barcelona on Wednesday night in a 4-1 aggregate defeat in the last 16.

The Blues go to Leicester in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final and their next Premier League fixture is on April 1 against top-four rivals Tottenham.

Antonio Conte's side are fifth with eight games remaining, trailing fourth-placed Liverpool by four points and third-placed Spurs by five.

Speaking after the Barca loss, Alonso said: "It's fair that they go through, but we showed we are a good team and now we have eight games to fight for a spot and play this competition again next season.

"It's hard, but you have to take the positives and fight. There's no time to regret. There's only eight games left and the FA Cup. We have to go for it 200 per cent."

Conte's future has been the subject of speculation all season and defeats to Leicester and Spurs could lead to questions over whether the Italian will complete the season as boss.

Chelsea won the Premier League in Conte's first season in charge, but this has been an at times tumultuous campaign.

The Italian was keen to praise his players following the loss at the Nou Camp, saying Messi was the difference.

Barca - and Messi - capitalised on errors across the tie to advance at Chelsea's expense.

Chances

"We deserved more, but against this team you cannot concede and then miss chances," Alonso added.

"We knew we had to take advantage of our chances. They arrived three times and scored three goals. We had so many chances and we didn't put the ball in." Willian, who has been Chelsea's brightest performer of late, said: "Now we have to look forward. We have FA Cup and Premier League to fight for."

Meanwhile, Messi was quick to praise his team-mates despite having a decisive say in Barca's triumph.

The Argentina playmaker now has 100 Champions League goals and 602 in his career, with the statistics conveying, to some extent, his ability. Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte said Messi was the difference, a once in 50 years player punishing errors from his players.

But the 30-year-old insisted it was a collective success.

"It was a really tough game. But we played strong as a team," Messi said. "Scoring so early meant we could control the game, but we didn't feel we had sentenced the tie until we got our third goal.

"Until then, we had to fight hard and suffer to achieve a very important qualification for the team."

Andres Iniesta returned from a hamstring injury to start for Barcelona but the 33-year-old could leave the Nou Camp at the end of the season.

Whether he stays or departs, Iniesta warned Barca must be at their best for him to win a fifth Champions League title.

He said: "The Champions League is complicated, a bad day leaves you out. We have a team and we want to play."

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