Relief for Mourinho as Willian late show lifts Chelsea
Chelsea 2 - Dynamo Kiev 1
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho admitted he was breathing a sigh of relief last night after Willian's late free-kick earned his side a 2-1 Champions League Group G victory over Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge.
The under-fire Portuguese, who has overseen the worst ever start to a Premier League season by defending champions in his third season back in London, believes that his Blues are finally getting their confidence back.
He said: "The win is a big relief. The players deserve to get compensation for their hard work.
"Many players are coming to their normal levels, despite having feelings as a team when negative moments come - and they are coming every game.
"The difference today was that we had confidence in the negative moment. The negative moment is always arriving for us. We had that good reaction against Stoke in the League Cup and today we conceded that equaliser with 15 minutes to go.
"I think the team was strong mentally, they kept trying and I'm happy with that."
The adulation poured down from the stands on the self-proclaimed Special One, whose position appears perilous. It didn't go unnoticed by Mourinho.
He added: "I don't know how to thank them. The only thing I can say is that until my last day in this club - four years, 10 years, 15 years, it doesn't matter - I will give everything for them."
Aleksandar Dragovic turned Willian's cross into his own net to give Chelsea an opener and scored at the other end as Asmir Begovic's luck deserted him.
But a delightful Willian free-kick settled the contest, giving the Blues a second win in six games and boosted their Champions League hopes.
As often is the case with Chelsea and Mourinho, it was not straightforward and there was a moment of controversy.
Diego Costa was denied a penalty when trying to charge between two defenders in first-half stoppage time and replays showed only the slightest contact.
Mourinho, who has had numerous run-ins with officials this season and is subject of a stadium ban for Saturday's Premier League clash at Stoke, was smiling and quietly seething.
Chants of 'Jose Mourinho' erupted in the moments prior to kick-off and continued throughout as fans showed their support.
His popularity is not in doubt. Results are what matter and Liverpool last Saturday inflicted a sixth Premier League loss in 11 games and ninth in 17 games in all competitions.
The Blues, with Eden Hazard dropped to the bench as one of three changes, started well once more and Oscar steered a Cesar Azpilicueta cross straight at Dynamo goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy.
Costa blasted over before Chelsea went ahead after Begovic's unconvincing clearance found Baba Rahman, in at left-back.
His cross-field pass reached Willian, whose cross was turned in at the near post by Dragovic.
Costa then called for a penalty after squeezing through between Dragovic and Yevhen Khacheridi but his protests were in vain.
Kurt Zouma's fine tackle denied Artem Kravets as the Dynamo forward raced through on goal early in the second-half.
Chelsea survived a penalty appeal against them when Derlis Gonzalez felt his shot had been handled by Ramires.
Dynamo continued to press, with substitute Junior Moraes seeing his shot repelled by Begovic, and Zouma fluffed a chance to double the fragile lead.
Domagoj Vida then headed wide and John Terry and Begovic next contrived to concede a corner from which the goalkeeper failed to reach the ball and Dragovic fired in.
But Willian, one of few players to be absolved of blame amid a miserable run, added a stunning late set-piece strike to save the day for Chelsea and Mourinho.
Chelsea: Begovic, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry, Rahman, Ramires, Matic, Willian (Cahill 92), Fàbregas (Hazard 79), Oscar (Pedro 79), Costa.
Goals: Dragovic (og) 34, Willian 83
Subs not used: Kenedy, Remy, Blackman, Loftus-Cheek.
Dynamo Kiev: Shovkovskiy, Vida, Khacheridi, Dragovic, Antunes, Sydorchuk (Garmash 45), Rybalka, Yarmolenko, Buyalsky, González, Kravets (Ribeiro Moraes Junior 56).
Goals: Dragovic 77
Subs not used: Miguel Veloso, Petrovic, Morozyuk, Gusev, Rybka.
Man of the match: Willian
Match rating: 6/10
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Rep)