Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho hails fighting spirit as Chelsea dig deep

West Ham 0 Chelsea 1

By Matt McGeehan

Jose Mourinho lauded the battling qualities of his Chelsea side after the Premier League leaders claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at West Ham.

Eden Hazard's first-half header proved the difference as Chelsea followed their Capital One Cup win with a victory which ensured their five-point lead over Manchester City remained intact.

It might have been different had the restored Thibaut Courtois not made a host of fine saves and Chelsea's defence, shaky at times, not made some key blocks.

"When good football is not enough, we fight, we suffer together, we cope with difficult moments," Mourinho said.

"It was not the best game to play after the final. The final is more than a game, because of tension, pressure and emotions.

"Some periods we had to defend with everything. It's a game where you can easily lose two points.

"We had chances to kill the game. We were expecting that.

"We didn't and when you don't do that against West Ham you are in permanent danger. It's a great victory for us."

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce contested Hazard's goal should not have stood.

"I've looked at the goal and it was offside," Allardyce said.

"Kevin Nolan was offside at Old Trafford (in September) when we scored for 2-2. There was half an inch of his nose offside and they said that was offside.

"There was about six inches of his (Hazard's) body offside this time and they said it's onside."

Mourinho dismissed Allardyce's complaint.

The Blues boss said: "Eden starts the action outside the box and he moves the ball, Fabregas, Oscar, pass to Ramires. I don't think Ramires is offside and I don't think Eden coming from outside the box is offside. But I didn't see on television. Maybe Sam saw it. For me, no.

"The only goal we scored is fantastic football. If Ramires scored that shot he hit the post with, it's fantastic football. If Willian scores the effort with an open goal it's fantastic football."

Mourinho, who has been critical of match officials this season, praised referee Andre Marriner and his team after an action-packed contest.

"This match must be a nightmare for a referee," he said. "For me, Andre and his assistants had a good game."

Chelsea have one trophy this season and Mourinho hopes the quality of his side can deliver further success.

"Now we are trying to build. We have one cup in the pocket. Let's see what we can do," he added.

"What's kept us top of the league since day one is the quality of our football. (But) sometimes we lose a little bit of what brought us to this position."

Allardyce rued the fact his side's run is now one win in 11 league games.

"We really wanted something out of the game. We're just the wrong side of the result, sadly. If we keep playing like that, we'll start winning again," he added.

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