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Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (right), vies with Manchester City’s English goalkeeper Joe Hart (center), during the English Premier League foot- ball match between Manchester City and Liverpool
Mourinho backs Chelsea’s misfiring strikers ‘The Happy One’ singles out Harzard for praise

LONDON, Dec 27, (AFP): Jose Mourinho was once again forced to defend his strikers after Chelsea squandered a number of chances in their hard-fought 1-0 win over Swansea. Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard netted the first half goal that kept Chelsea in touch with the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge on Thursday. But Chelsea were again guilty of failing to finish the game off, with Samuel Eto’o twice denied by Swansea keeper Gerhard Tremmel when presented with a clear opportunity to score. Mourinho’s three forwards - Eto’o Fernando Torres and Demba Ba - have scored just five goals in 18 Premier League games, but the Blues manager insists their wider contribution has helped the team progress. “If they score 10 instead of five in the second half of the season, we’ll have more chances (to win),” Mourinho said. “They always give something to the team. Every one of them who plays gives something. No winning goals, okay. But they give.”

Mourinho also refused to criticise Cameroon forward Eto’o, who failed to convert after being sent clear on Tremmel’s goal immediately before the break and then again when his volley was saved at point-blank range by the keeper. “Today I can say the biggest person responsible for the lack of goals was their goalkeeper because he made three or four big saves,” Mourinho said. “Today I’m saying their goalkeeper played very well. We didn’t miss. The goalkeeper made fantastic saves: Eto’o in the first half, the first minute save in the second half. “At that moment, the action was good. Eto’o attacked the ball perfectly. My striker made the right move and attacked the ball, but the goalkeeper made a fantastic save. That’s fine.”

Mourinho singled out Hazard for praise after the Belgian turned in a man of the match performance, capped by his ninth goal of the season, confirming him as the club’s leading scorer this season. “He gave everything, so I’m happy,” Mourinho said. “His last action in the game was defending our box. “The kid was tired. He plays a high intensity game. He was exhausted.” Chelsea’s Brazil midfielder Ramires picked up a yellow card that will keep him out of the meeting with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and Mourinho had no complaints as the foul disrupted a threatening Swansea attack. “He had to stop the game. If he doesn’t stop, there’s a risk of a dangerous counter-attack,” Mourinho added. “It’s the kind of card I don’t complain. It wasn’t a silly action.
 

“I don’t want to cry. I just want to think about the solutions we have. That’s life. You lose players by injuries and cards. “If I’d not played him today, I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if we lost points. “He doesn’t play against Liverpool, but that means he’ll be fresh against Southampton.” Swansea manager Michael Laudrup admitted his side’s disappointing recent run puts the pressure on ahead of their visit to Aston Villa. “It’s important. If we want to use the positive part from the game today, we need to use that in the next few games,” Laudrup said. “A lot of the teams will look at it the same way down there. “I look at the points and the other teams. I think there are eight teams just four points apart. Then West Ham with 14 and Sunderland 13. “Three will go down and the teams from nine to 17 in the table will be involved. “Eleven teams will fight to avoid relegation. It’s not really a big surprise. The only surprise this year are Southampton who have gone on a little further.”

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