LONDON: Eden Hazard redeemed himself by converting the controversial stoppage-time penalty which rescued not only a 2-2 draw for Chelsea against West Bromwich but also Joe Mourinho’s record of never having lost any of his 66 Premier Leage matches.
Hazard had been dropped from the Champions League squad in midweek after returning late last weekend after forgetting his passport while on a visit to France.
Chelsea went ahead with a close-range poacher’s finish from Samuel Eto’o right on half-time but Albion hit back after the break through Shane Long and Stephane Sessegnon.
Albion manager Steve Clarke, Mourinho’s former assistant, was denied a famous win over his old boss when referee Andre Marriner deemed Steven Reid to have fouled Ramires in the penalty area. Albion protested long and loud but Hazard was not affected.
Clarke said: “I cannot believe the referee gave that. Ramires started going down before there was any contact. It’s the kind of penalty given when you have a home crowd which shouts for everything and puts pressure on a referee.”
Mourinho, relieved at not conceded a second successive league defeat after Chelsea’s upset at Newcastle, praised Hazard for the penalty kick.
He said: “”Penalties are easy to score in training sessions – I score – as they are when you are winning 3-0 or 4-0 but this was a difficult one and the kid was very calm.”
Intriguingly, Cesar Azpilicueta was again preferred at left-back to England’s Ashley Cole. Mourinho said: “Azpilicueta is playing well, with zero mistakes.”
Liverpool returned to winning ways as they demolished Martin Jol’s Fulham 4-0 at Anfield. Beaten by Arsenal in their last outing when top spot was up for grabs, Brendan Rodgers’ side responded positively with two goals for Luis Suarez.
Captain Steven Gerrard confirmed his own fine form by creating two of Liverpool’s goals. Gerrard set up one for Suarez after nutmegging Dimuitar Berbatov.
Fulham, missing suspended Sascha Riether, have only 10 points from 11 matches but Jol said: “Every manager in every team in the bottom six or seven has to keep fighting. The sides outside the top seven or eight are not better than us. Those are the games when we have to get results.”
Southampton climbed two places to third with a 4-1 home win over Hull. Three goals came in the first half, the third from captain Adam Lallana to celebrate being called up for England’s friendlies against Chile and Germany.
Aston Villa left it late to break down Cardiff with two goals in the last 15 minutes while Norwich eased the pressure on manager Chris Hughton by hitting back from a goal down to beat West Ham 3-1 and Everton wasted a chance to move up when they were held goalless at managerless bottom club Crystal Palace.