JOSE Mourinho criticised Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for “doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump” and showing his “wild nature” in trying to win a penalty in Chelsea’s 2-1 Barclays Premier League win at Stamford Bridge.
SCORERS: Chelsea - Hazard 17, Eto’o 34; Liverpool - Skrtel 4
Referee: H Webb
In Suarez’s first match against 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.
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, because he’s so clever because he’s in the area where the Liverpool supporters behind. But (referee Howard) Webb is ten metres away. And I think the only mistake Webb did was not to give him a yellow card.”
Television pundits insisted it was a spot-kick and Mourinho suggested there was a dearth of analysts with a Chelsea connection and joked that he would take a role in broadcasting following his management career. When pressed, Mourinho admitted there may have been contact between Eto’o and Suarez, “when the ball is ten metres away with Azpilicueta”, even though he had earlier stated on Sky Sports 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. “He does everything to win and Brendan (Rodgers, the Liverpool manager) is doing a fantastic job on him because he’s changed. There’s no doubt that he’s changed. 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. Culturally people from that area (South America), they like it. It’s not also that area. There’s a corner in Europe where I belong to, that they also like (diving).”
In 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.”
The Reds went ahead in the third minute when Suarez got in front of Ivanovic to meet Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick. The ball hit Ivanovic and broke for Skrtel to tap in.
Hazard then forced Simon Mignolet to save before going down under the challenge of Lucas Leiva, who was fortunate not to concede a penalty.
Mignolet was at full stretch to turn over a Frank Lampard shot from 25 yards which appeared destined for the top corner – but the Belgian goalkeeper was beaten by a brilliant shot from his compatriot Hazard moments later. Oscar’s attempted pass bounced off Mamadou Sakho into Hazard’s path – and he hit a curled effort into the top corner in the 17th minute.
Azpilicueta was involved in the move which took the Blues ahead in the 34th minute, making an over-lapping run before Oscar crossed towards Eto’o – who got in front of Skrtel to poke in beyond Mignolet.
As Liverpool’s efforts to find a leveller grew more desperate in the second half, Mignolet went up for a late free kick to no avail as the Anfield men ended the day in fifth place.