Ancelotti fielded a weakened team including three of the club’s promising youngsters and a bench that featured four teenagers. Skipper John Terry was also substituted at half-time as part of a pre-determined plan ahead of Saturday’s visit to Manchester City.
“It was not our priority,” said Ancelotti in his post-match press conference. “I wanted to win but I’m not so disappointed. I was happy not with the result but for the performance, absolutely.
“We had a fantastic reaction when we were 3-1 down. We had 10 against 11 and showed good spirit and good personality, which is the most important thing for us.”
Patrick Van Aanholt, 20 – who scored one and set up another – Jeffrey Bruma, 18, and Gael Kakuta, 19, all started for Chelsea and Josh McEachran, 17, delivered a magnificent cameo after replacing the injured Salomon Kalou in the 54th minute.
“You can count on the future with these players,” explained Ancelotti. “They played with flair, personality and character. This was their competition, they had a fantastic experience tonight.
“The game was difficult by the end but we are happy with the performance of our players. The match was very good and we came back into the game.”
The Chelsea manager revealed that Kalou, who was stretchered off with a thigh injury, and Yossi Benayoun, who limped off with a calf injury, will both miss “a few games”, including the crucial City trip. Kakuta was also substituted at half-time with a back complaint.
Asked about Kalou’s injury, Ancelotti said: “We have to look in the morning [at the damage]. It was a strong tackle on the ball; that can happen. He was unlucky, but it can happen.
“The referee played a good match, he was fair on the pitch. This is not a problem. It was a good performance.”
The Italian confirmed that Terry will lead the team against City on Saturday.
“The plan was to give him 45 minutes and he played without problem,” he said. “He will play against Manchester City.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Ancelotti singled out young Englishman McEachran for further praise: “[He] played with character and showed fantastic skills. He’s very young and he has fantastic ability in midfield.”