Jose Mourinho was left to reflect on a job well done after this afternoon’s 2-0 victory at Derby in the FA Cup.
Like at Southampton on Wednesday, the first half was entertaining and end to end, if shorn of goals, and like at Southampton it needed a second-half header to open the scoring.
After Michael Essien was replaced John Mikel Obi took the captain’s armband, and, on his 300th appearance in a Chelsea shirt, capped his day with a goal, thumping home Willian’s free-kick with a bullet header.
Oscar added a second soon after, swerving the ball past Derby’s keeper Lee Grant with a fine strike, and the remaining minutes were played out in relative comfort as we eventually eased into the fourth round, where a home tie with Stoke City awaits.
Jose Mourinho said he was delighted with his side’s attitude against a side going well in the Championship…
‘The game was difficult,’ said Mourinho. ‘In the first half we played quite well, we were not far from scoring but it was still 0-0 at half-time and that is a big risk, because after that if the opponent scores you are in trouble.
‘They got the message that in the second half we needed an extra intensity. I decided to change Essien for Eden Hazard to bring an extra attacking player on to make it more difficult for them.
‘The team played seriously, we won, job done.’
It was a landmark day for John Mikel Obi, in many respects…
‘I never recognise his ability to score goals!’ the Portuguese laughed.
‘I recognise his ability to play as an anchorman, to play that position in a very comfortable way, with no mistakes. He reads the game well, plays in an intelligent and safe way, but I never recognise his goalscoring appetite.
‘There was a smile on my face [when he scored]. For some reason Essien gave him the armband, normally it should go to Ashley Cole, so maybe it made him believe he was a goalscorer!
‘It was important for us, we were dominating and dominating, creating and creating but the goal was not arriving. It was like the winning goal.’
Mourinho came up against a team and an opposition manager that he hopes to face again soon.
‘I wished Steve (McClaren) the best for the rest of the season in the Championship. He is doing a very good job, improving the side a lot, they have a good side and they can fight for promotion. I hope next season I can come here not in the Cup, but in the Premier League.
‘The players respected their opponent, they played seriously from minute one. We didn’t need a second game.’
Mourinho also had words for Eusebio, who passed away earlier today.
‘For you Eusebio is one of the greatest football players in history. For Portugal he means more than that, no colour, no clubs, no political sides, for Portuguese people Eusebio is Eusebio. In the next couple of days, you will see how much he means to Portugal.
‘I have known him since I was a kid, he played with my father in the national team, he was always sending me presents on my birthday because our birthdays were one day apart.
‘The last time I met him was in Ukraine at the Euros. He enjoyed his life outside the pitch. Guys like him, they never die. History won’t let him die. He leaves a great legacy. Rest in peace.’
Jose Mourinho’s opposite number Steve McClaren said he was thrilled with his team’s effort in a front of a packed house, but admitted his side had come up against the better team…
‘I couldn’t be more proud, we’ve played against one of the best teams not just in the Premier League, but in Europe. They have a front four that you can’t get near sometimes,’ said McClaren.
‘Jose showed respect with the team he played. He’s got a good squad and a good team there, good young players. The fans must have enjoyed our effort and the quality of the Chelsea team.
‘We don’t have this kind of quality coming here every week in the Championship, the belief must grow because we dealt with it. Apart from the result I couldn’t be more delighted.’