Livid Lambert denied a point

They say that decisions even themselves out over the course of a season, but how Paul Lambert must wish that karma had waited slightly longer than four days before it redressed the balance.

Aston Villa were beneficiaries of a contentious penalty at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday, but they were denied a point at Stamford Bridge on Thursday morning (Singapore time) when a cast-iron call went unnoticed.

John Terry's injury-time hand-ball was clear to most in the stadium. Not, however, to referee Kevin Friend.

Now that the Premier League has installed cameras to confirm whether or not the ball has crossed the goal-line, the calls for the further use of technology will intensify. This is the thin end of the wedge.

When quizzed on "the apparent penalty", Lambert laughed coldly.

"Apparent?!" he scoffed.

"It's hand-ball, it's there for everyone to see."

This was not the only complaint from Lambert. He was just as frustrated that Branislav Ivanovic was still on the pitch to score the winning goal when he felt he should have been dismissed for an apparent elbow on Christian Benteke.

Unsurprisingly, Jose Mourinho did not agree with Lambert's verdict.

"This is the Premier League," shrugged the Chelsea boss.

"This is English football… I thought the referee did well."

More tension was evident afterwards when Lambert heard how Mourinho had described him to TV cameras after full-time.

The Portuguese manager told the press that Lambert reminded him of himself 10 years ago, complaining about everything and that, in time, the Villa boss would change.


Lambert's face when the quotes were recounted to him was a picture. He sat very still, chewing it all over and then he chuckled wryly.

A thousand responses must have flowed between brain and mouth. Admirably, he selected the most diplomatic option and chose to take it as a compliment.

He was far more offended when he heard how Mourinho had dismissed his team as a side that do not play much football. He visibly bristled and launched into a spirited defence of his players.

And rightly so. Villa were excellent and this was a far tougher test for Chelsea than last Sunday's onesided affair against Hull City. Antonio Luna's early own-goal was no barometer of what was to come.

While Steve Bruce's team were able to offer only a thin curtain of a defence against Chelsea's marauding attacking midfielders, Villa shut the door, bolted it and turned the lights out.

Long-range efforts from Frank Lampard and Oscar were as good as it got in the first half and Villa claimed a reward for their obdurate display just before the break, when Benteke struck his third goal of the season.

There were concerns for some time that Chelsea simply didn't have a way through Villa's lines. Demba Ba endured a miserable night, while Juan Mata, unsurprisingly after a long summer, was subdued. When Mourinho replaced them both with Romelu Lukaku and Andre Schuerrle, their fortunes began to change.

After Fernando Torres' vanilla display against Hull, the young Belgian now appears to be Chelsea's best option up top. He pounded Ron Vlaar relentlessly as Villa exchanged stability for ambition and space began to open up.

Despite two good chances from the visitors, there was a sense of inevitability that Chelsea would find a winner.

"If we are here with a draw, it would not be an unfair result," Mourinho admitted.

It was clear that Chelsa required a sharper edge up front and it was no surprise when Mourinho confirmed that the club would make a renewed attempt to spirit Wayne Rooney away from Old Trafford after the two clubs clash on Tuesday morning.

Chelsea certainly need something new up front. They won't be able to rely on dubious decisions every week.

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