Valerien Ismael reveals pride at Barnsley FC's Cup display

Valerien Ismael.Valerien Ismael.
Valerien Ismael.
PROUD Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael said that he took plenty of heart from a ‘very great performance from his young Reds team who pushed Chelsea all the way in a narrow 1-0 FA Cup exit at Oakwell.

Barnsley showcased their development under Ismael in an excellent first half, in particular, with Callum Brittain spurning two golden chances to open the scoring.

Thomas Tuchel’s Blues changed system to a 4-3-3 in the second half and improved and made the breakthrough midway through the half when Tammy Abraham struck.

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But the England striker made a key intervention at the other end to prevent Michael Sollbauer from levelling and taking the tie to extra time, the least that Barnsley deserved.

Offering his thoughts, Ismael believes his side will have learned plenty from the evening to take them forward in their careers and for the rest of the Championship campaign.

Ismael said: “We got the result (performance) we wanted. The most important thing was the performance and to compete at a clear level.

“We had a lot of questions before the game. ‘Can we compete at that level?. Can we force our principle against Chelsea who are one of the best teams in the world and can we push through our principle?’ And we did it.

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“I think in the first half, especially, we were the best team and we had two big chances to score and we have to score.

“In the second half, Chelsea changed their shape and had more control of the game and we had to adapt, but we did it well.

“We kept the pressure on the ball. We kept pushing and had big opportunities before the end.

“All the people who know Barnsley will know that it was clear and visible that we stayed true to ourselves.

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“It is a good feeling for the guys to see we can compete at this level.

“The possibilities were there to win in the first half.

“But I am really proud of the guys, they gave everything and rose their own performance at that level and it is what we needed to compete. We showed belief and determination in everything we did and this is what we need and it can help with the next step for the young players to play at this level maybe in two, three or four years. It was an excellent process for the guys and we made a very great performance.

“The development of the team is clear.”

Meanwhile, Ismael’s opposite number Tuchel admitted his side were fortunate to progress and book a quarter-final home date with Sheffield United.

On whether his side were lucky, he said: “I have to be honest, yes.

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“We can clearly play better and it was not our best performance and to cope with the difficulties was hard for us - to cope and escape with the pressure.

“We did some changes at half-time and we played better in the second half with a different structure and we scored a very nice goal. But after that, there was a lot of risk and they (Barnsley) played very, very aggressive and we had trouble to cope with the first challenges and second balls.

“We were lucky twice in the first half and when Tammy saved us on the line. In the end, we have to admit we struggled, but the cup is sometimes like this.”