Mourinho comes out fighting after Costa stamps mar win
Blues overcome Liverpool to make it to Capital One Cup final, but victory could come at a cost
Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0. An extra-time winner from Branislav Ivanovic booked the Blues their place in the Capital One Cup final in a game short on goals but long on controversy.
The main talking point concerned Chelsea striker Diego Costa and what appeared to be two stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel, for which the Spaniard could well face retrospective punishment. Referee Michael Oliver missed the incidents but not Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who described them as "nasty". The Northern Irishman continued: "We see the TV incidents, the two that he had. The one with Emre Can... that was poor I felt. He could easily hurdle over the young player. But he directs his studs right onto his ankle, which could have been nasty. And the one with Srktel, again, there's no need to do it. That's the sad thing."
Rodgers' comments elicited a spiteful response from Mourinho, who employed Rodgers as a youth coach during his first spell in charge of Chelsea. The Special One sniffed: "We have different profiles, he is a fantastic manager but we are different persons... maybe he learned from me, maybe he didn't."
If those comments were designed to spark a new managerial rivalry Mourinho reserved his fiercest rebuke for Jamie Rednapp, launching what the Daily Mirror describes as "an astonishing attack" on the Sky Sports pundit. When reporters in the post-match press conference accused Costa of stamping, Mourinho dismissed the allegations and rounded on Redknapp, although he refused to mention him by name.
"Maybe you are already influenced by the campaign on the television with certain pundits saying that Costa has crimes," said Mourinho. "They must be nuts, the guy who says that. Great campaign. We know how much that pundit loves Chelsea and particularly loves me."
Asked to name the 'certain pundit', Mourinho replied: "Forget it. Let's go to Wembley. Come on. I don't know his name, because when I see him I switch off the television."
Though Chelsea have Ivanovic to thank for scoring the crucial goal four minutes into extra-time, the Blues' biggest debt of gratitude was for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who pulled off two fine saves in the first-half to deny Alberto Moreno and Philippe Coutinho.
Chelsea had chances, too, with Costa unable to beat Liverpool's Simon Mignolet on two occasions in the second-half. But the Belgian keeper was unable to stop Ivanovic heading home Willian's free kick after Lucas had fouled Eden Hazard. Liverpool, who travelled to the Bridge having drawn the first leg at Anfield 1-1, should have equalised within a couple of minutes. But when Raheem Sterling delivered a cross onto the head of Jordan Henderson, the England midfielder somehow contrived to direct the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
It was a victory, however, that came with a price for Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas limped off on 50 minutes with a hamstring problem and is a doubt for the crucial league clash against Manchester City on Saturday, while Filipe Luis picked up a calf injury and will be assessed in the coming days.
With Costa likely to face a disciplinary hearing, it could yet prove a costly evening for Chelsea, but for Mourinho the positives outweighed the negatives. "The most important thing is that we won, the group is happy and the supporters were absolutely wonderful," he said. "The final at Wembley always means a lot."