CHELSEA 1 LIVERPOOL 0
(Chelsea won 2-1 on aggregate)
CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho took aim at Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and launched a diatribe against a Sky television pundit, believed to be Jamie Redknapp, after reaching the Capital One Cup final last night.
Defender Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time header decided a pulsating match played on the edge, in which Blues striker Diego Costa was twice accused of stamping on Reds players but escaped punishment on both occasions.
Mourinho took issue with Rodgers, who worked under him as a youth coach in his first spell at the club, calling Costa’s conduct “nasty” and revisited a recent theme by blasting an alleged campaign waged by pundits against the Spain star.
“I don't know if he learned something with me or not, but we are different persons,” he said of Rodgers. “He goes to the television and speaks about Courtois. He forgets Mignolet. To say that Courtois played fantastic -- I could do the same and say Mignolet played fantastic, but I don’t forget my goalkeeper, because my goalkeeper helped me to be in the final.”
Mourinho reserved greater ire for a Sky pundit, understood to be Redknapp, adding: “I don’t know what you understand by ‘stamp’. There is a campaign on the television with a certain pundit who is saying Diego Costa crimes. He must be nuts.
“About what you call stamps, and Sky calls crimes, I have to say absolutely accidental. He goes to the ball, he chases the ball, the opponent is on the floor, they have a contact, he puts his foot there when he is looking to the ball. So, great campaign.
“We know how much that pundit loves Chelsea and particularly me, but when you are very well paid -- much more than some managers who have to put their ass every 90 minutes, every weekend, on the bench -- these guys have a very good seat, very good money, no pressure, they are always right, never lose, they always win, but they have to be fair and they have to be honest.”
Rodgers, who has not beaten a Mourinho team in five attempts as Liverpool manager, said Costa had stamped on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel, calling it “poor”. He added: “He could easily hurdle over the young player [Can] and directs his studs right onto his ankle, which could have been nasty.”
Joy at reaching a final and relief at avoiding a second cup exit in four days was tempered by injuries to Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis and Ivanovic, while the Football Association could yet charge and ban Costa if they review footage.
Mourinho won his first Chelsea trophy in this competition 10 years ago and can do the same for his second spell in charge at Wembley on 1 March, having dealt a decisive blow to Rodgers’ silverware hopes for a second consecutive season.
Liverpool swarmed all over Chelsea in a breathless opening spell and carved an opening when Kurt Zouma, preferred to Gary Cahill, sent Sterling haring goal-wards by misjudging a header, only to race back and thwart the England forward.
The Blues demanded a penalty mid-way through the half when Costa went down under contact from Skrtel, but referee Michael Oliver enraged Mourinho by judging it in keeping with a robust yet largely fair contest.
Reds’ playmaker Philippe Coutinho enjoyed the best chances before the break -- first from Steven Gerrard’s defence-splitting diagonal pass and then after fooling the backline with a bodyswerve -- but twice Thibaut Courtois saved.
Tension that simmered from the frantic start threatened to boil over early in the second period when Skrtel and Costa squared up, the Liverpool defender accusing the Chelsea striker of stamping on him.
Mourinho’s men seemed fired up and went increasingly close with three efforts in six minutes. Hazard flashed a shot wide, and Mignolet stopped Costa’s deflected effort with his shins before, moments later, tackling the same player as he tried to round him.
It was not until extra-time that a goal came, though, Ivanovic leaping unchallenged to guide in Willian’s right-wing free-kick. Liverpool quickly fashioned a chance to respond when Sterling chipped to the far post, but, with the goal gaping, Henderson headed wide.