Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Chelsea man­ager Guus Hid­dink has made it clear that the Blues have vir­tu­ally no chance of fin­ish­ing in the top four on the Premier League stand­ings this sea­son.

Chelsea ex­tended their un­beaten streak to 12 games fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Satur­day and are cur­rently in 10th place on the points ta­ble.

Even though they trail fourth place Manch­ester City by 10 points, Hid­dink re­it­er­ated that it is im­pos­si­ble for the Blues to end their sea­son in the top four and se­cure a Cham­pi­ons League spot for next sea­son.

“[The top four] is al­most im­pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially when other teams are also knock­ing on that door,” Hid­dink told re­porters.

“On the other hand, we [have] come from one point off the rel­e­ga­tion zone in De­cem­ber, and we got safe in a rel­a­tively short space of time.

“Go­ing to the middle of the ta­ble, by Chelsea’s nor­mal stan­dards, is not enough.”

Mean­while, Hid­dink lashed out at ref­eree Mark Clat­ten­burg for fail­ing to award Chelsea a penalty when Os­car was brought down by Stoke City de­fender Marc Mu­niesa.

“We con­ceded the late goal, that’s al­ways frus­trat­ing. We started the first half slop­pily and af­ter 15, 20 min­utes we got more en­er­getic,” he added.

“We scored a beau­ti­ful goal through Traore, and in the se­cond half I think there was one key mo­ment - that the penalty was not awarded on Os­car.

“If you see it, it was a clear, clear, clear penalty. I don’t say that of­ten, but it would have been given as a free-kick if it was out­side the box.

“I think it was a key mo­ment, but we must not say that Stoke were not push­ing. At the end I think it was a fair re­sult.”

How­ever, Hid­dink was highly im­pressed with Ber­trand Traore’s per­for­mance as he put Chelsea in the lead in the 39th minute.

Hid­dink also be­lieves that the 20-yearold can be­come a huge as­set for the Blues in the fu­ture.

“You can see he has qual­ity. Young play­ers have to try and get con­trol and dom­i­nate their nerves, which you saw in the be­gin­ning, but he showed with the goal he has the ca­pac­ity to do a lot,” he said.

“We have some strik­ers that com­pete in a healthy way among them­selves. If they show what they can do in train­ing then it will be re­warded.” — AFP

In­dia cap­tain Ma­hen­dra Singh dhoni.

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