Kovacic denies Chelsea players celebrated drawing Porto

Midfielder Mateo Kovacic has said reports that Chelsea celebrated drawing Porto in the Champions League are untrue and “strange”.

Kovacic’s former Real Madrid team-mate, now Porto defender, Pepe has claimed the Blues see the Portuguese side as the weakest in the last eight of the competition.

“No it’s not true,” Kovacic said prior to the first leg on Wednesday. “It’s strange to hear that from him.

“They knocked out a big opponent and they showed great spirit. It will be a tough game as they fight together and stay together.”

Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel also denied his side see Porto as the weakest link.

“How would we celebrate it?,” the German said. “They are a very strong team and we respect everyone. We’re playing a quarter-final in the Champions League.

“We have the feeling that we are strong enough to overcome Porto but it will be a tough match as they are very experienced.”

Chelsea have impressed under Tuchel, with Saturday’s bizarre 5-2 defeat against lowly West Brom the only loss since their new manager replaced Frank Lampard in November.

Following Wednesday’s tie, Chelsea play Crystal Palace in the Premier League at Selhurst Park on Saturday – before playing the second leg against Porto next Tuesday.