Chelsea Survive, Liverpool and Saints Shine
By Mike-Collett 11 November 2013
LONDON — Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored a controversial penalty deep into stoppage time to salvage a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and preserve Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home Premier League record.
Referee Andre Marriner was surrounded by furious West Brom players after Brazilian midfielder Ramires went down under what appeared to be an innocuous challenge from Steven Reid.
Belgian international Hazard, fined and left out of the squad for the Champions League match with Schalke 04 by Mourinho for losing his passport, returning from France late and missing a training session, made amends by keeping his cool to score.
The draw took Mourinho’s unbeaten home league record at Stamford Bridge to 66 matches following 60 unbeaten games in his first spell there between 2004 and 2007.
However, his team could hardly have left it any later with West Brom seconds away from their first league win at Stamford Bridge since 1978.
Although Chelsea blew the chance to close the gap on leaders Arsenal to two points, Liverpool made no mistake, crushing a woeful Fulham side 4-0 at Anfield to move up to second.
Southampton were the other big winners, beating Hull City 4-1 at St Mary’s to go third.
Arsenal, who play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, top the table with 25 points from 10 matches, followed by Liverpool on 23, Southampton with 22, and Chelsea on 21.
Everton, who drew 0-0 at bottom side Crystal Palace, and Tottenham Hotspur, who play Newcastle United at home on Sunday, both have 20 points.
Mourinho told Sky Sports he was convinced it was a penalty.
“When a penalty comes in the last minute of stoppage time it is always a dramatic situation. But I am sure it was a penalty.
“I have watched it on the screen after the match from different angles and different speeds and there is no doubt it was a penalty.
“We should have had a free-kick when West Bromwich scored their second goal so if someone should be upset with the referee it is Chelsea,” he added.
“I just know it’s hard when you get a penalty against you in the last minute and you are winning the game it is hard to accept.”
Reid told Sky he thought the penalty was harsh.
“It was very soft. There was obviously contact there but it was a fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and Ramires has gone to ground very easily,” he said.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke, 11 years a Chelsea player and Mourinho’s former assistant at the Bridge, was angry about the decision, even though Mourinho kissed him on the cheek at the end of the game.
“It was not a penalty. I am sad, I am angry. But I am also very proud of my players because we were magnificent today and we deserved to get the three points and if we play like that for the rest of the season we’ll be good.
“[Jose] has to say it’s a penalty. He’s in the opposition dugout. We had a great chance to make it 3-1 before the non-penalty. It is ridiculous to have to take that, because it wasn’t a penalty.”
Samuel Eto’o put Chelsea ahead shortly before halftime but goals from Shane Long and Stephane Sessegnon in an eight-minute spell midway through the second period gave West Brom a lead they held until the dying embers of the match.
While Chelsea were grasping for a point, Liverpool sailed serenely to all three, crushing Fulham 4-0 with Luis Suarez scoring twice to take his tally to eight in six league matches since returning from suspension.
An own goal by Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta opened the scoring, Martin Skrtel, whose last goal for Liverpool was against Fulham in December, made it 2-0 after 26 minutes before Suarez sealed the points with the first of his double in the 36th. He added another goal in the second half.
Southampton were impressive in their win over Hull City with goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert, who converted his 33rd career penalty in 33 attempts, and Adam Lallana, with a superb individual goal, putting them 3-0 ahead after 37 minutes.
Steven Davis added a fourth in the 88th.
The win completed a fine week for the south-coast club after Lambert, Lallana and forward Jay Rodriguez were included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for this month’s friendlies with Chile and Germany while Saints Argentine boss Mauricio Pochettino was named Premier League Manager of the Month on Friday.
Aston Villa ended seven-and-a-half hours without a league goal when Leandro Bacuna scored after 76 minutes to set them on the way to a 2-0 win over Cardiff City, with Libor Kozak adding a second in the 83rd minute.
Struggling Norwich City bounced back from last week’s 7-0 hammering at Manchester City, coming from behind to beat West Ham United 3-1 at Carrow Road in the evening kickoff.
The result took some of the pressure off manager Chris Hughton and lifted the Canaries out of the relegation zone for the first time since the end of September as they ended the day in 15th place, one position and one point above the Hammers.