Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has refused to blame Eden Hazard for his side’s League Cup exit at the hands of Stoke City after the Belgium international missed the decisive spot kick on Tuesday.
A late Loic Remy equaliser cancelled out Jonathan Walters’ opening goal to send the game into extra-time and eventually spot kicks at the Britannia Stadium.
Willian, Oscar, Remy and Kurt Zouma all found the net from 12 yards for Chelsea, but Stoke made no mistakes from the spot either.
Hazard then saw his attempt saved by Jack Butland as Chelsea crashed out of the League Cup, but Mourinho refused to point the finger at the former Lille star.
“I remember some penalty shootouts. There were misses form Arjen Robben, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka. And now our best penalty taker as well,” Mourinho said at a news conference.
“I never blame a player for missing a penalty, though.”
The defeat represented yet another disappointing result for Chelsea, who have also been struggling badly in the league and Champions League, but Mourinho sees no reason for panic.
“I am happy with our performance. I can take a day off on Wednesday with no problems. I think we played well. We played some attacking football and could have been three or four up at half-time. The team did everything after we fell a goal behind. It was no more than deserved when we equalised,” he added.
“We go out with sadness, but also with a positive feeling. It’s more difficult when you play bad and lose than play well and lose. The players must be frustrated because they’re not getting what they deserve.
“A few months ago I won a few matches and I was champion. People were saying there are things more important than results, yet now, people say results are the most important thing. It’s a contradiction.”
The Chelsea boss then went on to defend his players against recent criticism and feels they deserve more respect.
“There is a lack of respect towards my players. What some people write and say is really bad for the players. Maybe they think my players are like them when they were players. My players don’t do that, they tried everything.
“If anyone saw the second half the other day, playing with 10 men the way my players did … the things they say and write is a lack of respect for the players.”
Next up for Chelsea is a challenging meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.