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Scolari praying Drogba stays fit

December 10, 2008 12:49 IST

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari welcomed Didier Drogba's goalscoring return on Tuesday and said he is praying the striker would remain fit for the rest of the season.

The Ivorian came off the bench in the 65th minute and produced a neat finish six minutes later to secure a 2-1 win over CFR Cluj and send Chelsea through to the Champions League last 16 after Yssouf Kone had cancelled out Salomon Kalou's opener.

It was Drogba's 19th European goal for the club, edging him one ahead of Frank Lampard in Chelsea's all-time list, and was a timely reminder of what the Londoners have been missing in his recent absence.

Drogba has started only four games this season, two of those in the League Cup, having suffered a series of injuries.

"He had no pre-season, got injured, came back, injured again, suspended, what can I do?," Scolari told reporters.

"It's important for me to have him as he is one of the best in the world and with him I have more options but I have to say that [Nicolas] Anelka is also important.

"Now I pray for no more injuries and maybe I can put two strikers together or maybe decide which player is better."


Anelka has taken on the scoring mantle in Drogba's absence, banging in 15 goals, but when Drogba joined the fray on Tuesday it was the Frenchman who dropped back into more of a midfield role.

"We've trained like that twice but that 20 minutes with them both on, sometimes we lost the middle so I need to train them how to work it," Scolari said.

"But this is for the future, it gives me more options."

Scolari admitted to a few nerves after Cluj's 55th-minute equaliser.

"We needed to reach the next stage," said the Brazilian. "If we win or draw and go through I'm happy.

"There were two qualification slots and we got second place, that's alright. Now we await the draw."

Scolari had kind words too for Cluj, who finished bottom of the section despite opening their debut Champions League campaign with a shock win at eventual Group A winners AS Roma.

"I like this team, there is not a big difference [between us]," he said. "We had more of the ball but they countered well and had a good spirit and I like some of their players."

Cluj coach Maurizio Trombetta said: "The whole Champions League experience has been very useful for the club.

"If we had drawn with Bordeaux it would have been very different for us today but sadly we couldn't spring another surprise."

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