Willian shines to save Mourinho but Hazard lurks on the bench
Mourinho laps up adulation of the fans as his most reliable lieutenant digs him out of another hole
A late free kick from Willian earned Chelsea victory over Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge and inched the Brazilian midfielder's boss Jose Mourinho back from the brink.
The 2-1 win in the Champions League also leaves the Blues well placed for qualification for the last 16 of the competition, something that could provide a welcome distraction from the trials and tribulations of the Premier League.
Yet the win was not routine, and when Aleksandar Dragovic cancelled out his earlier own goal to equalise with 13 minutes remaining "it surely crossed the mind of Mourinho that his team might just go into a tailspin again and make their famous manager look foolish once more", says Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph.
Enter Willian, the Brazilian who has been Chelsea's only shining star this season.
His wonderful 25-yard free-kick, the fifth he has scored already this campaign, put the Blues back in front with eight minutes to go and secured the vital win.
Willian "has provided much-needed energy and invention, bite and reward, amid so much lethargy" this season, says Dominic Fifield of The Guardian.
And his contribution was vital to what was a "scrappy success, the product of a performance that was unconvincing for long periods and gripped by spasms of tension".
The victory will still be cherished by the Blues and Mourinho suggested it could be a turning point. But if Willian's winner points to a light at the end of the tunnel "Eden Hazard's presence on the bench, not far from the Mourinho clan, told a darker story", says Paul Hayward of the Telegraph.
A manager alone cannot take a team from the top of the table to 15th place in the space of three months, he argues. There must be "mutinous thoughts" in the minds of some of the players and Hazard's fall from grace could be part of that story.
Chelsea are still in trouble, but at least victory has taken some of the heat out of the situation, says Hayward.
As for Mourinho, he was further boosted by the rousing display of affection from the fans, one that he was quick to acknowledge after the match,
"With Chelsea, I think this is my moment. It was amazing," he said. "The club should be proud of their fans. The win is a big relief. The players deserve to get compensation for their hard work. For me it's an unforgettable moment of my career to have the whole stadium supporting me in a difficult moment."