JOSE MOURINHO revelled in the shackling of Luis Suarez after Chelsea showed their Premier League title credentials with a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool yesterday.
In Suarez's first match with Chelsea since April's infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic earned him a 10-match ban, Mourinho's side deprived the prolific striker of scoring opportunities and took full advantage to win 2-1 and move two points behind leaders Arsenal.
"The team did a very good job collectively," Mourinho said.
"It was more about my team defending really well with 10 players than specifically this one or that one."
Mourinho criticised Suarez for "doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump" and showing his "wild nature" in trying to win a penalty at Stamford Bridge.
A frustrated Suarez felt he had been fouled by Samuel Eto'o in the penalty box, but Mourinho disagreed, making a diving gesture and insisting simulation must be outlawed from the British game.
Mourinho said: "Suarez lost a duel with (Cesar) Azpilicueta, Azpilicueta has the ball and is leaving the box with the ball and now he's doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try to get the penalty.
"But (referee Howard) Webb is 10 metres away. And I think the only mistake Webb did was not to give him a yellow card."
When pressed, Mourinho admitted there may have been contact between Eto'o and Suarez, "when the ball is 10 metres away with Azpilicueta", though he had earlier stated on Sky Sports 1 that Suarez went down "like somebody shot him".
Suarez was praised by Mourinho in the build up, but was unable to score his 20th Premier League goal of the season on his 14th appearance as Martin Skrtel's fourth-minute goal was cancelled out by a brilliant Eden Hazard strike and Eto'o poked in a first-half winner. But Mourinho wants the Uruguayan to end his penchant for going to ground.
"The player is amazing," the Portuguese added. "But when the situation is like this and you are losing comes the nature of the player, the wild nature of the player or the cultural nature of the player."
John Terry was one of the men responsible for starving Suarez of chances on his 600th Chelsea appearance.
Mourinho said: "Everything he's getting is not because he's my man or because I respect him from my first period here. He's getting these minutes because he's playing fantastically well.
"More important than the accumulation of the 600 matches is the fact that he's played every minute of the 19 matches this season. Only him and Petr, and Petr is the goalie."
Responding to Mourinho, Liverpool boss Rodgers pointed out Eto'o was fortunate to still be on the pitch after catching Jordan Henderson with a poor challenge which led to Skrtel's early goal.
"He (Eto'o) should've been sent off," Rodgers said.
"I know we scored from it, but that was a wild challenge, where he's raked down his knee and down his shin and didn't even get a yellow card.
"Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders, that's why he's world class.
"What he probably doesn't expect is to provoke a challenge from someone who's not involved in the contact.
"He's running to challenge Azpilicueta and Eto'o is street wise, he's cute, he blocks him. On another day, you could give that as a penalty because it's obstruction in the area. Of course, he (Mourinho) will defend his player and I will defend mine."
Rodgers' men have now lost two on the bounce, falling from first place on Christmas Day to fifth heading into the new year.
However, Rodgers was happy with their efforts in challenging away games against Manchester City and now Chelsea – both 2-1 defeats – and remains confident his side are in the title frame.
"I thought it was a great effort by my players," he said. "We've had two really tough fixtures against two of the strongest squads in the Premier League. To get them back-to-back at this time of year was always a big ask and with so many injuries as well.
"To keep the game in the balance to the very end, you have to give credit to the players. Of course we're disappointed but right now I'm more worried about the group, we're nursing injuries and we'll see where we are tomorrow."
Rodgers, in trouble with the FA for his remarks after the loss to City, praised Howard Webb's overall performance, but said Eto'o was lucky to be around to score the winner.
"He was very fortunate even though it's so early in the game," he said. "Howard was excellent today, but that was a poor challenge. I know we scored from it, but he's raked his studs down the leg and shin and I'm surprised he didn't get a card."
Rodgers had a number of youngsters on the bench with injuries biting, and admitted reinforcements might be needed in January if they are to keep their title challenge alive.
"I think that's always been the case," he said. "The squad is very shallow. It shows the size of the challenge that you can lose two games and go from top to fifth but I'm confident if we can get some players back and maybe add one or two more we can be well set. We've already shown we can be a team that is exciting to watch."