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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2006, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Mourinho accepts Ballack red card
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez (left) and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho shake hands after the game
Benitez and Mourinho shake on it after the game
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had no complaints over Michael Ballack's red card during the 1-0 win over Liverpool.

Ballack was dismissed for a foul on Mohamed Sissoko, who Mourinho feels should have been sent off for two bookable offences before the incident.

"It is a red card but I would like to say it is the first red card of Michael Ballack's career," said Mourinho.

"The other thing is that he gets a red card for a foul on a player who should not have been on the pitch."

Ballack appeared to stamp on Sissoko's leg after 51 minutes but his challenge looked to be more mistimed than intentional.

Mourinho also had doubts about some of referee Mike Riley's other decisions but refused to criticise the official.

When we didn't shake hands I think the respect was there but I am happy we are over that stupid period

Mourinho on ending his feud with Benitez

"If we go from the first to the last minute and analyse Mr Riley's performance I think we kill him and it's better to give him a little bit of protection and forget the mistakes.

"For a referee of his level - he is a good one - it was not his day."

Mourinho was keener to focus on the way his side held on for the victory - in a win he believes will have a galvanising effect on his team.

"I think we needed this type of victory to make the group stronger," he stated after Chelsea widened the gap to eight points over the Reds.

"Sometimes if you win with just quality, playing fantastic and scoring a lot of goals you can feel you are a great team," he added.

"But you need these matches where you feel you are a team ready to fight. My players were very brave and the team fought very hard."

Mourinho and Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez shook hands before and after the game - after failing to do so following recent matches.

"I respect him," said Mourinho. "He is one of the best and I also feel he respects me.

"At the end of the day, when we didn't shake hands I think the respect was there but I am happy we are over that stupid period."

It's a long race and the most important thing is that the team is improving

Rafael Benitez

Liverpool wasted several gilt-edged chances, while Benitez was adamant his side should have had a penalty late on when Frank Lampard appeared to have pushed Steven Gerrard.

"I think that we deserved more because we created clear chances," said the Spaniard.

"But at the end you need to score to win and we couldn't, while they scored their goal."

On the Gerrard penalty claim, he added: "I was in line with the assistant and had the same vision as him.

"It was a clear Lampard push on Gerrard - but if they don't say anything you cannot change it now.

"The only positive thing is the team played well and created chances."

Liverpool have a game in hand on Chelsea and Benitez refused to be drawn on his side's title aspirations.

"We need to think about the next game. It's a long race and the most important thing is that the team is improving.

"If we can win the next three points we will be closer and we will see what happens."



SEE ALSO
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
17 Sep 06 |  Premiership
Sunday football photos
17 Sep 06 |  Football


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