LONDON: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was furious with referee Kevin Friend after a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea which lifted Jose Mourinho top of the Premier League.

Branislav Ivanovic was immensely fortunate to escape a red card for catching Christian Benteke with a flailing arm before scoring the winner.

Lambert also thought Villa should have been awarded a stoppage-time penalty when the ball hit John Terry’s arm in the area.

Lambert said: “It’s easy to sit here with sour grapes and all that sort of thing, (but) I thought my team were outstanding. I don’t think we deserved to lose the game. I think we’ve been done by two big decisions that were wrong.

“I don’t think you can miss those ones, not big decisions like that. They’re big game changers. My team never deserved that.”


On the incident which saw Ivanovic booked for catching Benteke, the scorer of Villa’s goal, Lambert said: “I think it’s an elbow. I know it’s a physical game and all that, but I think it’s an elbow.”

As for the Terry incident, Lambert added: “It was a handball. It’s there for everyone to see. Gabriel Agbonlahor won the header and John Terry, good player, but you raise your hand in the penalty box, I think it’s a penalty.”

Mourinho, whose side went in front after six minutes through an Antonio Luna own goal, dismissed Lambert’s complaints.

On the Terry handball incident, Mourinho said: “If somebody pushes an opponent, especially in the box, in dangerous areas, it’s a free-kick.”

He also played down the Ivanovic/Benteke incident, saying: “This is the Premier League. This is English football. For some reason the world loves it more than any other league: one thing is a real aggression, another thing is duels.

“I think the referee did very, very well. From minute one to minute 95 there was a real fight, a football fight between Benteke and Ivanovic. Fouls for one side, fouls for another side. I think that’s football.”