Football

No moody Mourinho, 
just a joking Jose

Jose Mourinho was full of jokes and wisecracks and even lauded the display of referee Andre Marriner, after his Chelsea side took another stride towards winning the title with a 1-0 victory at West Ham yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Premier League leaders, who have a game in hand, maintained their five-point advantage over second-placed Manchester City after Eden Hazard's close-range header in the first half proved the difference.

"It wasn't the best game to have after a final to play West Ham," said Mourinho, referring to last Sunday's League Cup triumph over Tottenham at Wembley.

"It was really difficult and the emotion was so high. The players were fantastic and the referee was good, letting the game go and controlling the game with yellow cards.

"West Ham are the best team playing the way they play, but my players gave everything to win the game.

"We had chances to score more goals and, when you don't do that, you are in permanent danger, so this is a great victory for us."

Chelsea had to withstand wave after wave of West Ham attacks in the second half led by the dangerous Stewart Downing, but the defence stayed strong and Thibaut Courtois sparkled in goal.

"In every title race, you have difficult matches to play," said Mourinho.

"You have matches where you need quality, others where you need luck and others where you need to adapt to the opponents.

"Today was one of those and Gary Cahill, John Terry and Kurt Zouma were good in handling the direct football, while Courtois was amazing.

"It was a game where you could lose two points and I'm happy with the fact we won."

Hazard nodded the only goal from six metres in the first half, but West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said it should have been ruled out because the Belgium winger was offside "by six inches".

Mourinho had his audience rolling in the aisles when he said midfielder Nemanja Matic would have missed yesterday's game even if he had not been serving the final game of a two-match suspension.

"I'm going to tell you something," Mourinho laughed.

"He got an injury celebrating the cup win on Sunday even though he didn't play.

"He twisted his ankle celebrating on the pitch." 
- Reuters.