The impact Jose Mourinho’s substitutes had on Sunday lunchtime’s win against Norwich was one of the main talking points coming out of the game, and the manager spoke afterwards about the part those introduced played in delivering the three points.
At 1-1 and with the game entering the final 20 minutes, Samuel Eto’o, Eden Hazard and Willian were introduced one by one and it was the Belgian and the Brazilian who scored to give Chelsea our first away league win of the season, the first of those goals from a breakaway, the second an individual effort and a spectacular strike.
Oscar had put Chelsea ahead early on with a good finish of his own following strong centre-forward play by Demba Ba…
‘If the substitutes come in and they change the game, the manager did very well. If they come in and they make it worse, the manager made a very bad decision. In the end I always think it is their responsibility,’ said Mourinho.
‘The situation became difficult at 1-1. We all knew that a point here would be a bad result for us. The whole team, not just the boys that came on, and they coped well with that pressure.
‘Without losing totally the balance, we could risk a bit and try to bring to the game different things to see if Norwich could cope with that.
‘I had to go with what I did. I had to put Eto’o, Hazard and Willian on, all three at the same time.
‘We could win, we could lose. At that moment we didn’t want the point, we played with three guys at the back with Schurrle open, Eden central to make three quick strikers. We lost a bit of balance to try to gamble and create. We left the road a bit open for Norwich too. If they scored a second goal, probably we lose. We are trying to be top so after one point at Tottenham, one point here today would be a bad result, so we tried to win.’
On the job done by Demba Ba who was the choice at the start to replace the suspended Fernando Torres…
‘He did what I was expecting him to do,’ reported Mourinho. ‘This kind of match – very direct, small pitch, very British, I decided to start with a more physical striker, also for defensive set-pieces.He did his job. I think he has to score that goal in the first minute of the second half. Put the ball in, 2-0, go home and no heart attack.
‘After you don’t score, you leave the door open for them. They score a goal and you are in trouble.
‘During the game I’m not nervous but I have feelings, I smell things. When I saw that easy goal missed I had a smell. I smelled that Norwich would score a goal. That’s why I put Hazard warming up even with the 1-0 score.’
Willian’s strike was his first goal for Chelsea…
‘It’s good for the boy. It’s difficult to arrive at the club when we had started the season already, and it’s difficult to come from a league where normally a player loses a little bit of ambition, sharpness and condition. So step by step he’s getting there.
‘I’m happy too with the medical department who worked hard to try to recover Hazard, not to play 90 minutes but to be available for me. I knew if I needed him he would be in the condition to give a push. So as a team and as a group, everybody did their bit today.’
Mourinho confirmed he took Ashley Cole off for tactical reasons, unaware that the full-back had an injury…
‘Cole goes for a scan on the ribs when we arrive back, I hope he’s fine.’
Norwich manager Chris Hughton lamented his side conceding Chelsea’s second goal following what had been a Norwich corner…
‘Our set up to deal with the counter-attack was good,’ he said, ‘but the power and the pace Chelsea have made it difficult.
‘With the third goal you have to hold your hand up sometimes and say it was a good strike, and they have the quality on the bench to bring on players like those, but when it went to 2-1 it became difficult. The second goal hurts us.’