Sven-Göran Eriksson has praised the performance of Joe Cole in Chelsea's win over Barcelona.
England Head Coach Sven-Göran Eriksson has praised the performance of England midfielder Joe Cole in Chelsea's 4-2 win over Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho's side were in irresistible form as they brushed aside the Spanish League leaders to go through to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Key to the Blues victory was the performance of Cole who, operating in a roving midfield role, was the architect of two of Chelsea's three first half goals.
Sven, who was in the stadium watching in admiration, was deeply impressed with the 23-year-old Cole. "It was the best game I've seen in a long, long time and Chelsea in the first 20 minutes were incredible," Sven told TheFA.com.
"I think it's fair to say it's probably the best performance that I have seen from Joe Cole.
"Since the start of this season he's been playing better and better. He's playing more games, which helps but I also think he is becoming more mature, growing in confidence and getting stronger physically."
With Chelsea already leading by one goal, Cole engineered some space out on the right to crack a fierce drive at the Barcelona goal. Victor Valdes could only parry the effort and England colleague Frank Lampard followed in to put Chelsea two-up.
"His skill has always been there and last night he applied it excellently," Sven said. "I thought he played a clever game."
Cole's second assist came when he played the perfect through-ball for Damian Duff to race clear of his markers to slide home a third goal, a piece of real Joe Cole magic.
Sven continued: "When you see players performing at their best in a game like that one last night - in a huge atmosphere against top players - you have to sit up and take notice."
Midfielder Cole said: "It was a great night for Chelsea and it can only be good for England too because we’re learning how to cope with the very best players in the world.
"But I think the game was great for football all together. To be part of a game like that is what you play football for. I’m happy to have won it but it means just as much to me that it was a classic and that kids will have watched it and will get their passion for the game from seeing it."
Later this month, England face two crucial World Cup qualifiers, first against Northern Ireland at Old Trafford on 26 March and then against Azerbaijan at Newcastle United's St. James' Park four days later.
And after a performance like the one he put on last night, Cole will no doubt be hoping he will be in the squad for that double-header, which is named here on TheFA.com on the evening of Sunday 20 March.