Barcelona blamed a combination of defensive mistakes, the influence of Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho and a refereeing error for their departure from the Champions League.

“It was a tough defeat to take,” said Barca skipper Carles Puyol after Chelsea’s 4-2 victory on Tuesday helped them earn a 5-4 aggregate victory.

“We paid a high price for 20 minutes of poor play when they scored three goals from three counter-attacks.

“We knew they had quick men up front who could score, but we weren’t able to stop them.

“We had our chances to win the match, but it wasn’t to be.”

Barcelona were stunned by three Chelsea goals in the opening 20 minutes to trail 4-2 on aggregate. But they fought back through two Ronaldinho goals which put the visitoors ahead on the away goals rule.

However, with time running out John Terry headed home from a corner although Ronaldinho said that the goal should have been ruled out for a foul by Ricardo Carvalho on keeper Victor Valdes.

“The way I saw it there was a foul on Victor in Chelsea’s fourth goal,” said the Brazilian.

Barcelona players weere also unhappy with the role played by Chelsea boss Mourinho.

“It was clear that Mourinho knew exactly how to go about creating tension around the match,” said midfielder Gerard.

“We were too innocent … and have to learn from their non-footballing tactics.”
His words were echoed by Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o.

“Mourinho is a disgrace,” added Eto’o. “But in the end everyone went along with his game. I bet he talked to the press this time.”

“We were the better side, but what counts in football are the goals,” Eto’o said.

“We fought hard and will be back in the Champions League next season. Now we have to concentrate on winning the Spanish league.”