Jose Mourinho praised the attitude of his players after John Terry’s 93rd-minute goal secured a precious three points in a tight, absorbing encounter against Everton at Stamford Bridge.
The captain, who returned to the side having missed the last three games, scored the decisive goal when he arrived at the far post to steer a Frank Lampard free-kick beyond Tim Howard, sending the home supporters into a frenzy.
There was little to choose between the sides for much of the game and Everton, who went into the contest looking for their first Premier League win in SW6 since 1994, will perhaps feel they deserved a point.
The victory, and the manner in which it was secured, was the perfect response to last week’s disappointing FA Cup exit at Manchester City, leaving Mourinho to reflect on a job well done.
On the performance
‘It was a very difficult match, in periods one team was dominant and the other had to play very well defensively to cope with that,’ said the Portuguese. ‘We had a very good start, in the first 20 minutes we were in control and had a few good chances and positions to shoot. For the rest of the first half Everton were in control.
‘They are very comfortable on the ball, pass the ball very well and even though they don’t create a lot of chances the quality of their possession is second to nobody in the Premier League.
‘At half time, at 0-0, normally my change would be a different one but I felt I needed to control the game because my team is not a team that scores a lot of goals, so if they scored before us I don’t think we’re a team who would have been able to score two goals and win the game.
‘I preferred to put Ramires on as it gave more consistency to our midfield. They were again in control for some parts of the second half but for the last 20 minutes we were strong. We created, pressed and dominated.
‘The reality is that the boys chased it, I feel sorry for Everton because maybe a point would have been fair, but we were the team that were really trying to win, which is our responsibility. A point for them is a good point, a point for us is not good, so I think in the end maybe we deserved it.
‘I never thought we would score so late, I had a hope we could score before that but that’s when you want it, in the last minute.’
On the significance of the victory
‘If today we have only one point, if the teams behind us win we lose that position. The difference is very small; you win the game you keep your position, you don’t win the game you lose your position. If we’d only got a draw later today we could be third, that’s the reality of the competition.
‘Every victory keeps us there, every defeat or draw we lose our position. The feeling when you lose points in the last minute, like we did at West Brom, is obviously a bad feeling. When you win in the last minute it’s the opposite, so this is basically compensation for the points we lost at West Brom.
‘To be where we are, with some limitations we have in the team, having only worked together for a few months, I think we are doing well.’
The manager was delighted with the desire shown by his players
‘We just want to try to keep our position and not give it up for free to our opponents, we have to fight, we have to play.
‘It’s a good feeling to win in the end but the best feeling is that the players did everything. We have some limitations, that’s obvious, but the team wanted to win. If you score that’s fantastic but even if we hadn’t scored I would have a positive feeling.
‘When you see a performance, for example, like Azpilicueta’s, the only thing he didn’t do was put the ball in his arm and run into the goal like a rugby player. His performance was representative of the desire shown by all the players and that’s important.’
Mourinho said Oscar was withdrawn due to injury and provided an update on other absentees
‘Today he was saying he could cope with the pain, it’s not a dangerous one, just a painful one. He said he could cope with the situation, clearly he couldn’t.
‘We have three days so let’s see. With Mikel and David Luiz, I don’t know if they can recover. It’s important we have at least one of them because we don’t have Matic for the Champions League.
‘Ramires had a similar situation to Oscar, I tried to protect him and not play him but the game demanded I play him. Clearly, though, he could cope with the situation.’
Everton manager Roberto Martinez, despite the result, was delighted with the performance of his side.
‘Today was a big moment for us to understand where we are as a team,’ he said. ‘We were magnificent and that’s exactly what we needed.
‘Tim Howard had a period of 5-10 minutes where he made some good saves but I couldn’t see Chelsea scoring in open play.
‘We defended really well but for the goal, John Terry was brave and threw himself at it and got the goal.’