It was one very happy Jose Mourinho after a historic win on Manchester City’s home ground.
The Citizens had scored in 61 consecutive Premier League home matches and had yet to drop any points on their own turf all season, but the Blues ended that sequence in spectacular fashion thanks to Branislav Ivanovic’s brilliant first-half winner.
It was no less than we deserved after an accomplished display that delighted Mourinho, who went on to explain that an unlikely source had given his pre-match team talk for him. In the end, having struck the woodwork three times after taking the lead, we could perhaps feel aggrieved the margin of victory was not greater.
City did threaten – as you would expect from a side that had won their past 13 games and had struck 72 goals in 18 home matches this campaign – but on the few occasions they found a route past our heroic backline they were thwarted by Petr Cech, who, along with Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic, earned praise from the manager on a night when everyone in blue – including 93rd-minute substitute Demba Ba – played their part.
Mourinho was thrilled to see his side came out on top in a big game again…
‘We are a team in evolution but this is the kind of performance that helps the team to grow up a lot. Tactically and mentally I think it was fantastic,’ enthused Mourinho.
‘A victory is a victory but a victory against a very good team is better than against an ordinary team. This is also good for the Champions League because we have big opponents so this is a good feeling and a good experience. Today was special.
‘We love the big games. When you love it maybe you feel extra-motivated. The best thing for our evolution is to play matches under pressure, to be close to the leaders, and today we came here and played against the leaders and we deserved it.
‘We defended very well and we very compact. The victory was only possible because Petr made a couple of fantastic saves, it was only possible because the defensive players played so well, it was only possible because the midfield players worked so hard, and it was only possible because the attacking players were giving a great contribution.
‘Demba Ba played 30 seconds and cleared the last corner of the match. He was intelligent because I told him to mark Joe Hart if there was a corner. Hart didn’t go so he went to the space and won the ball in that space. Everyone did a fantastic job for the team.’
Mourinho reported who had spoken the final words before the players went on to the pitch.
‘I didn’t speak. It was Billy (McCulloch) the masseur. He was screaming in his Scottish accent so much I didn’t understand him. The players were clapping – okay, let’s go. It was Billy’s team-talk.
‘The last time I spoke to the players was at midday. I’m serious. Billy was fantastic, I didn’t understand but it looks like the players understood.’
Nemanja Matic, on his first Premier League start, was magnificent in midfield.
‘I watched him play dozens and dozens of times because he plays in Portugal – a league I watch every weekend – and I knew he was ready to come to the Premier League. That’s why we signed him now, because we didn’t want to lose him. The club did very well to sign him now.’
Eden Hazard’s showing also caught the eye.
‘He needs to keep his feet on the ground. He still has to improve but he is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there (to the level of Messi and Ronaldo). Give him time, and Willian, Schurrle, Salah too. Give them time. They need good results and so this result is very important for them.’
Mourinho praised referee Mike Dean’s performance in arguably the biggest Premier League game of the season so far.
‘Sometimes we criticise referees and speak when they don’t have the best performances. It’s fair to say Mike Dean had a fantastic performance with one mistake – which was not to give the red card to Nastasic – but one mistake in 95 minutes of fantastic, intense, fast football is a great performance from Mike and his assistants.’
Our win leaves the top three separated by just two points.
‘There are two horses and a little horse – a little horse that still needs milk and work and to learn how to jump. There are two big horses and the last horse, a horse that next season can race.
‘We have beaten the best team twice. In the first game we won because Fernando was bright; today we won because we were the best team.’
Mourinho’s opposite number, Manuel Pellegrini, doesn’t believe there was much to choose between the two sides…
‘We lost against a good team that played very well. It was a very close game and they had the luck to win it,’ said Pellegrini.
‘For Chelsea it was a decisive game but it wasn’t for our team. We could have been six points ahead. They scored a very beautiful goal into the corner but before that we had clear chances to score.’