Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho did his best to downplay the significance of his side’s dramatic 1-0 win against Everton that kept the Blues top of the table.
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Mourinho’s muted and evasive press briefing on Friday was his response to a few weeks verbal sparring with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Manchester City's Manuel Pellegrini.
John Terry’s injury-time winner proved decisive in a tight game at Stamford Bridge, with Mourinho keen to distance his side from a challenge for the Premier League’s top spot.
“We just want to try to keep our position [at the top of the table] and not give it up for free to our opponents, we have to fight, we have to play,” Mourinho said.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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 [in a 1-1 draw earlier this month], 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.”
Everton boss Roberto Martinez could not hide his despair at Chelsea’s late winner, as he suggested the free-kick that led to the goal was harsh when Ramires fell under a challenge from Phil Jagielka.
“It’s a very unfair outcome for us not to get something out of this game,” Martinez said. “It is still a great performance from us. It doesn’t take away from what we did, but you can see how why they have such a good home record. Chelsea have know-how and get wins in these games.
“We needed the referee to be stronger at the end. Ramires and ‘Jags’ go into a situation where it’s one v one and the way he loses his foot on the ground, it’s clearly not because of contact, it’s just trying to look for that free-kick.”