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By ESPN Staff

Referee defends Drogba handball decision

Referee Mike Dean has defended the advice of assistant Paul Norman which led to him disallowing Didier Drogba's equaliser in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat by local rivals Fulham.

Luis Boa Morte handed the home side a first-half lead and Drogba thought he had levelled for the Barclays Premiership champions but the goal was disallowed after television replays showed the Ivory Coast striker had clearly used his arm to control the ball.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho complained that there was no way Norman - who did not flag for handball - could have seen Drogba's offence.

Amid fervent protests from the Fulham players Dean went to consult Norman before giving the home side a free-kick and disallowing the goal.

After the game Dean explained the incident: 'The process that we went through was there has obviously been an incident and when Drogba rounded the `keeper there has been a buzz (from the assistant referee).

'I think the assistant referee, from the distance he is away, could not have flagged. It would have been impossible and not credible.

'A buzz has been made by Paul to myself. I have obviously chosen to go across to speak to him about the situation. He is convinced there is a handball there, and I am convinced now after seeing the replays that the big decision was right.

'We've come to a decision that it was handball. I'm happy, Paul's happy,' he told Sky Sports 1.

'I'm happy with the whole process. The big decision has been right. If we'd given the goal it would have been completely wrong and again I'd be talked about for getting the big decision wrong.

'We got the biggest decision of the game right. The buzzer worked for us today.'

Dean insisted the complaints from the Fulham players did not influence him.

'They're not going to influence me because the buzzer has gone off and I know straight away what I'm going to be doing - I'm going to speak to my assistant. They have not made me go over.

'We've got it right. Instead of saying `how's he done this?' or `how's he done that', give the guy a bit of praise and give us a bit of praise for getting the big decision right. That's what you should be talking about.'