Chelsea's Mourinho forgives saviour Hazard

AFP, Sunday 10 Nov 2013

Chelsea manager hails Eden Hazard for converting a hotly disputed 96th-minute penalty during the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard (Photo: Reuters)

Jose Mourinho praised Eden Hazard after the Belgian finished a difficult week by converting a hotly disputed 96th-minute penalty that prevented Chelsea from suffering a second successive Premier League defeat.

Hazard was disciplined after missing training this week, but he was restored to the line-up against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and struck the added-time equaliser that secured a 2-2 draw.

The 22-year-old had taken an unauthorised trip to France last Sunday and was delayed when he lost his passport, but Mourinho insists the matter is now closed.

"I don't need to accept his apology. I don't need to think any more about it," he said.

"It was a big penalty. Penalties are easy to score in training sessions – I score – as they are when you're winning 3-0 or 4-0. But this was a difficult one and the kid was very calm."

West Brom manager Steve Clarke and his players were incensed by referee Andre Marriner's decision to award a penalty when Ramires went down under a challenge from Steven Reid, and questioned how easily the Chelsea midfielder went to ground.

"I'm disappointed that a bad decision has cost us two points," said Clarke, who was Mourinho's assistant during the Portuguese's first spell at Stamford Bridge.

"I'm flabbergasted at the decision. I can't believe he gave it, but I can't change it. I saw it at the time. I've been in the game a long time and I knew he was already on the way down before anyone was near him. The referee has to be 100 percent sure. How he can be 100 percent sure is beyond me.

"It's the kind of penalty that can be given when you've got a home crowd shouting for everyone. Referees are only human and can make mistakes. It should have been a fantastic result for us, three points at Stamford Bridge, but it's just a good result in the end."

Mourinho refused to agree with his former colleague and insisted his own side had been the victims of an injustice in the build-up to Stephane Sessegnon's 68th-minute goal, which put Albion ahead after Shane Long's header had cancelled out Samuel Eto'o's opener.

The Chelsea manager thought that Sessegnon had fouled Branislav Ivanovic before scoring and said: "It's a free-kick, a big free-kick, just in front of the fourth official.

"That's where I think the fourth official's job – instead of looking to see if the manager is in his technical area or not – should be to influence the game."

Mourinho was ultimately relieved, even though the draw brought an end to his side's perfect record at home in the league this season.

"To lose points at home becomes normal," he said.

"No team has a clean record at home. To drop a couple of points is normal. Tomorrow (Sunday), there is a game where Arsenal can step to seven points from us if they win, or stay at four. Other teams can win matches, especially the ones who are fresh playing on Sunday."

Cesar Azpilicueta was unexpectedly included in the Chelsea line-up ahead of regular left-back Ashley Cole, who remains out of favour following last weekend's defeat at Newcastle United.

"Because Azpilicueta is playing very well, he was (first-choice) today," said Mourinho. "Let's see what happens next week. I'm not concerned with Ashley's form, but I didn't like his performance against Newcastle."

Clarke and Mourinho embraced at the final whistle and the West Brom manager insisted they would not discuss the penalty.

"At the moment, the biggest disappointment is the decision," said the Scot.

"We did 60 percent of the job correctly in the first half. Second half we showed more ambition and were the better team for long periods. We have to try and take that forward in the games coming up."

He added: "I'm sure when I do speak to him, we won't speak about the penalty. We'll speak about each other's families, personal things."

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