Mourinho excuses referee blunder
Published 22/03/2014 | 15:46
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho felt sympathy for referee Andre Marriner after a case of mistaken identity saw him send off Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs early in the Blues' resounding 6-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Replays showed that it was Gibbs' team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who illegally turned an Eden Hazard shot past the post with his hand.
Hazard converted the penalty to make it 3-0 after just 15 minutes as the Gunners' title challenge suffered a near-fatal blow.
A significant talking point was the red card, although Mourinho said he understood why Marriner got the wrong man.
"Lots of people were in the box," he told BT Sport 1. "Eden makes the shot and from one player behind the keeper he makes a diving save like a keeper and touching the ball with his hands.
"From the bench you couldn't say which player. My assistant said Arteta and one said Chamberlain.
"This is the kind of mistake that every manager accepts.
"You feel he didn't see it. The second official on that side couldn't help him make the right decision.
"Is it a penalty, yes. Is it a red card, yes. After that the player comes additional."
Mourinho thought the match was effectively over at that point in any case.
Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schurrle had both netted inside the first seven minutes.
After Gibbs' dismissal, Chelsea did as they pleased, with an Oscar double and a Mohamed Salah strike completing the rout in Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal.
"We start in an incredible way. After seven minutes it is 2-0 and the game is over," Mourinho said.
"We want to try to make Arsenal not feel comfortable, the way they like to play.
"We managed to do that - 2-0 after seven minutes and the game is over, because we were too strong for them.
"After that the penalty comes and the red card. The game was resolved in 10 minutes."
Mourinho has repeatedly played down his side's title ambitions and opted not to overplay the latest success, in a match Wenger had described as his side's most important of this season.
"This was the most important match of the season for them. We don't say that, it was an important match for us," Mourinho said.
"Arsenal are always an important rival. It was important to beat them."
Chelsea and Manchester United are the only English teams left in the Champions League.
With United out of title contention, that leaves Chelsea as the only team with a shot at Premier League silverware to have the distraction of Europe.
"We go match after match. We play Palace next and after that we go to Paris," Mourinho said.
"It's a different situation to Arsenal. It's a different situation to Liverpool, and Manchester City are also not in that situation.
"We are happy to be in that situation."
Asked if Chelsea could win the title, Mourinho replied: "If they let us."