LONDON (AP) The message from fans was emphatic as Chelsea closed in on victory against Dynamo Kiev. And with each rendition of Jose Mourinho’s name at Stamford Bridge, the support for the embattled manager became even clearer on Wednesday.
The immediate need to decide Mourinho’s fate was eased by Willian striking late – from a free kick for the fifth time this season – to clinch a 2-1 victory over Dynamo in the Champions League.
A four-game winless run in all competitions had ratcheted the pressure on Mourinho, whose future had appeared to be jeopardized by off-field issues accompanying the poor results.
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”From the mental point of view it was important,” Mourinho said. ”A reaction to a negative moment.”
Mourinho benefited from a spot of good fortune in the 39th minute of this Group G encounter when Dynamo defender Aleksandar Dragovic sent a diving header into his own goal while trying to clear Diego Costa’s cross.
Dragovic atoned for his blunder by slamming the ball home in the 78th minute after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic flapped at a corner.
But five minutes later, Willian ensured Chelsea rose to second in the group with seven points. Porto leads with 10 points and Dynamo has five, with Maccabi Tel-Aviv pointless.
Willian’s goal was met with a rendition by fans of ”Stand up for the Special One.” That mattered as Mourinho hasn’t looked too special this season with Chelsea starting its Premier League title defense by losing six of 11 games.
”The moment I came back to the club (in 2013) … the way the stadium welcomed me was amazing but not comparable with today,” Mourinho said. ”Today it came in a moment when the results are not good. It came in a moment when you (reporters) are asking for my end.
”The fans read newspapers. The fans watch television. The fans listen to pundits’ opinions. They read blogs. And this is quite unbelievable what they tried to say today. They tried to say `We want you here.”’
With his future seemingly on the line, Mourinho had gambled by dropping Eden Hazard, English football’s reigning player of the year. The winger only appeared for the last 10 minutes, replacing Oscar as Pedro Rodriguez came on for Cesc Fabregas, in time to see Willian’s goal.
The victory meant it was a calmer Mourinho who was watched from just behind the bench by his family, including daughter Matilde on her 19th birthday.
”If I don’t see her from the bench I don’t see her all day,” Mourinho said. ”I can look back and see she is there.”
There’s unlikely to be any member of the Mourinho family at Chelsea’s next game. The manager won’t even be allowed in the stadium at Stoke on Saturday, part of a Football Association sanction for misconduct toward the referee.