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Chelsea boss Ancelotti queries Michael Essien red card

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Ancelotti expresses doubts over Essien sending off

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti defended Michael Essien after his straight red for a two-footed challenge on Clint Dempsey in the 1-0 win over Fulham.

"I don't like to judge the decision," said the Italian. "But I can say that maybe it was not a red card because he made a strong tackle, but on the ball.

"There was not a risk on the opponent. I think Essien went for the ball."

However, Fulham manager Mark Hughes said: "The guy has jumped in with two feet, so it's a straight red."

Essien was making his return to the Chelsea side after two games out with a toe injury, one of which was last Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.

It appeared as though all was going to plan, with his 30th-minute header setting the Blues on course to a deserved victory that takes them four points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.

I'm pleased we responded in that second half. I've been to games here where teams have gone under very quickly because they didn't show the qualities needed. My team did show that quality

Fulham boss Mark Hughes

However, the midfielder went from hero to villain in the fifth and final minute of injury time when he leapt two-footed into a tackle with Dempsey that saw him win the ball, but was deemed dangerous enough to warrant instant dismissal by referee Martin Atkinson.

"He tried to do a tackle, and he won it," said Ancelotti. "I'm not sure it was a sending off. We have to wait. I want to watch the replay before doing anything."

Despite the sour end to the game, the Italian declared himself pleased with his side's display that earned them important points as Manchester United were drawing 0-0 with local rivals Manchester City.

"It was a good performance," said Ancelotti. "We started well from the beginning with a high tempo during the game.

"The first half was very good and we had good control in the second half. We had a little problem at the end, but this is normal.

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"When you are just 1-0 up it's more difficult to control the game. We played well continuously over the course of the game, so it was a good performance.

"The Manchester result was good for us, though, to be four points clear. That's a good gap. Nothing is decided, but that's a good gap. We'd like to stay there in that position."

Fulham boss Mark Hughes felt that Essien deserved to be red-carded and also raised questions over Chelsea's goal.

Didier Drogba was injured in the Fulham penalty area when Essien headed home and Hughes conceded his side were caught off guard.

"The guy has jumped in with two feet, so it's a straight red," declared Hughes. "As for the goal, that's a disappointment from our point of view. We were distracted by Drogba lying prone in the box.

"You still have to play to the whistle, so maybe we were guilty of expecting the referee to blow up.

"He didn't and we paid the penalty. It's confusing the way the game is viewed in terms of when players go down: are they faking, and do you kick the ball out?

"We had that in the second half when we had the ball in a promising position, and ended up having the ball put out near our goal-line. Which was a bit ungentlemanly."

Hughes unconcerned by Fulham form

Hughes, though, was satisfied with his side's efforts throughout the match, particularly in the second half.

"I was pleased with the second-half performance. We showed belief," added Hughes. "As the game progressed, we started to make more of an influence in the game and had two great efforts on goal.

"A goalkeeper with less ability than Petr Cech would have struggled to keep them out.

"We took the game to Chelsea in the second half and, with a bit of luck, might have got back on level terms.

"But I'm pleased we responded in that second half. I've been to games here where teams have gone under very quickly because they didn't show the qualities needed. My team did show that quality."

The defeat leaves Fulham with 13 points from 12 games - two points above the relegation zone.



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see also
Chelsea 1-0 Fulham
10 Nov 10 |  Premier League
Wednesday football as it happened
10 Nov 10 |  Football
Wednesday's football photos
10 Nov 10 |  Football


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