Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho defends Eden Hazard after penalty miss
Jose Mourinho defends Chelsea's 'best player' on the night after penalty miss
Jose Mourinho refused to criticise Eden Hazard for a late penalty miss after Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw in Maribor.
The Blues, who smashed their Slovenian opponents for six at Stamford Bridge last month, struggled to make the breakthrough in the first half, prompting Mourinho to bring on Diego Costa and Oscar at the break.
He can miss a penalty and still be the best player in my team
But Maribor took a surprise 1-0 lead in the 50th minute through Agim Ibraimi’s impressive strike before Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic levelled with 20 minutes remaining in the Group G clash.
Chelsea had the chance to seal three points when Hazard earned an 84th-minute penalty, but the Belgium international saw his right-footed attempt saved.
Speaking about Hazard’s miss, Mourinho said: “When a player plays as well as Eden Hazard did – for me he was absolutely fantastic, by far the best player in my team – he can miss a penalty and still be the best player in my team.”
Mourinho was quick to praise Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic after he produced a string of saves to deny the west London side maximum points.
“In the last 30 minutes we played really intensely and creatively with big desire to win, we had lots of chances to do it, but the goalkeeper was magnificent,” Mourinho added.
“We created lots of chances and the goalkeeper was really, really good.”