José Mourinho insisted he had no regrets about leaving Oscar, Loïc Rémy and Radamel Falcao back in England and suggested Chelsea’s narrow defeat to Porto was born of “two ridiculous mistakes” in an otherwise sound defensive display.
The Premier League champions slipped to third in Group G, with Mourinho throwing on Eden Hazard – who, along with Nemanja Matic, had been dropped from the starting line-up – in a bid to salvage a draw, with his only other attacking introduction from the bench the teenage winger Kenedy.
Asked if he stood by his choice not to bring Rémy and Falcao, a former Porto player, Mourinho simply answered “Yes”. He denied that pair’s omission, together with that of Oscar, represented some kind of punishment, given his pre-match assertion that up to six of his players had not displayed adequate “attitude, desire and commitment” in Saturday’s draw at Newcastle. “No punishment, no punishment,” he said. “Just a decision.”
Instead the manager praised his side’s defensive display, despite Porto dominating for long periods and threatening to score many more than their two goals, while acknowledging two specific errors at corners. “I think it was a good performance with two ridiculous mistakes, and we were punished,” he said. “The second goal … for us it’s a ridiculous mistake. We watched dozens and dozens of repetitions of Porto taking corners. I thought we were completely ready for that so, in a moment when the game was under control and we were preparing a change, to concede that goal …
“We had another similar mistake when they hit the post, but apart from that I think the performance was balanced. Defensively we had no problems and the defenders played well. Two ridiculous mistakes and we were punished for them. Those mistakes were difficult to accept. The basic thing in football to work at is a defensive set-play: the ball is stopped, you defend the spaces or the man or both, so to concede the second goal was like ice in the players. But they reacted in a positive way and tried to get a result.
“Diego Costa hit the post, [Branislav] Ivanovic had a chance with an open goal, one metre from goal. There was a clear penalty in the last situation. We reacted well. I don’t think my players deserve me to be critical of them, apart from the two mistakes they made. This is a difficult place to win matches. I think they played well. I think the team played well.
“I have to try and find a balance. We have two home matches in the Premier League to come [against Southampton and Aston Villa] and need two good results. Good feelings, happiness, self-esteem … the players need that to play. When everything goes against you, it’s difficult to have that feeling. So let’s try, let’s try on Saturday.”