Chelsea prevail but Everton boss not impressed by ‘every trick in the book’

Mourinho accepts side has limitations as defining date looms with Galatasaray

Chelsea’s John Terry forces home the ball late for a 1-0 victory during Saturday’s game with top-four contenders Everton. Photograph: Gerry Penny/EPA

Chelsea’s John Terry forces home the ball late for a 1-0 victory during Saturday’s game with top-four contenders Everton. Photograph: Gerry Penny/EPA

Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 01:00

After waiting 93 minutes for a breakthrough at home to Everton Jose Mourinho joked about killing the Champions League tie against Galatasaray in Wednesday’s first leg. “Ideally I would prefer to go there and win 10-zero,” said the Chelsea manager. But there are several reasons why that might not happen.

Chelsea have begun to find goals hard to come by. “Obviously we have some limitations,” Mourinho accepted, after conceding a scoreless draw would have been a fair result and that Everton could consider themselves slightly unlucky to leave empty-handed.

With Demba Ba relegated to the periphery and Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres taking it in turn to fire blanks, the return of Champions League football and a reunion with Didier Drogba threatens to underline the point that Chelsea have never satisfactorily replaced the Ivorian striker Mourinho recruited from Marseille when he first arrived in England.

Drogba is 36 next month but “he’s still good, still a threat”, said Mourinho. “It will be a strange feeling playing against him because we know him so well but . . . Galatasaray is always a difficult place to go to; the crowd is difficult too.”

Replacing Drogba
Romelu Lukaku has been touted at various stages of his career as the nearest

like-for-like replacement for Drogba, although Mourinho usually remains non-committal on the subject. Everton knew they would be unable to select their on-loan striker against his parent club and it was their misfortune to lose his understudy, Lacina Traore, to a hamstring injury in the warm-up.

That set the pattern for a brisk and evenly contested battle mostly fought in midfield, with wide players or defenders producing most of the attempts on goal. Neither goalkeeper was worked especially hard, though Tim Howard made a double save from Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic, and Petr Cech was twice called on to deny Leon Osman.

Everton were fighting a rearguard for the last 10 minutes or so and, when the fourth official indicated five minutes of stoppage time, it seemed an almost unreasonable span to survive.

So it proved for, after Ramires had made the most of a challenge by Phil Jagielka, Frank Lampard swept in a free-kick and Terry flung himself at the ball to divert it in off Howard at the far post. Roberto Martinez was unimpressed. “It was a soft free-kick, I don’t think Ramires was fouled,” said the Everton manager. “I couldn’t see Chelsea scoring from open play but they are very good at piling pressure on opponents and referees in the late stages of the game. They know every trick in the book and it is very difficult for officials to get every decision right.”