Roberto Di Matteo finds a Friend despite Chelsea slip-up

Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo revealed he congratulated referee Kevin Friend on his display in Saturday's draw at Swansea.

Last updated on Sunday, 04 November, 2012 17:00 IST
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Swansea: Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo revealed he congratulated referee Kevin Friend on his display in Saturday's draw at Swansea.

All eyes at the Liberty Stadium were on the match official following the controversy involving referee Mark Clattenburg during European champions' Chelsea's league defeat by Manchester United last weekend.

Having led through Victor Moses's first Premier League goal for the Blues, di Matteo's men passed up the chance to reclaim top spot in the table after Pablo Hernandez's 88th-minute equaliser earned the Swans a 1-1 draw.

However, the agenda continues to be dominated by last weekend's events at Stamford Bridge which led to the Blues lodging a formal complaint with the Football Association over allegations Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

Di Matteo paid tribute to the performance of Friend, whose display was bound to come under scrutiny given last week's events.

"I've got to say the officials were very good," di Matteo said. "Kevin Friend did very well in the game to keep both teams calm and let the game flow.

"He didn't have any influence on the game. I congratulated him after the game because they (the officials) were very good.

"I didn't speak to the players before the game about the referee. Generally our team is very good (with officials).

"There has to be something really out of the ordinary for them to react. In general, we are a fair team," the former Chelsea and Italy midfielder added.

"Talking about the football is how it's supposed to be week in, week out. Everyone would like it to be this way, including me."

This result meant the London club have claimed just a point from their last two league matches and they now trail United by a point in the title race after Alex Ferguson's side beat Arsenal 2-1 earlier on Saturday.

But di Matteo insisted the week's off-field events had played no part in his team's failure to hold on for a victory.

"I wouldn't read anything into what has happened in the last week and the result here," he said. "This is our second away draw of the season -- we have won the rest of the (away) games.

"It is disappointing not to have hung onto our lead. Even when you are not brilliant, you need to get a result like that.

"It's a long season and it is going to stay very tight at the top.

This match followed Chelsea's draining extra-time League Cup win over United in midweek and di Matteo said: "We have certainly felt (tired) this week after the two games with Manchester United including extra-time.

"It's important we utilise our squad and we rotate them so we remain fresh and have enough energy on the pitch."

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup claimed his team were good value for the draw, saying: "I think it was a deserved point. It was, in many ways, a copy of the game we played last week against Manchester City (and lost 1-0). That time we deserved a point but didn't get anything, we did this time.

"They had a few goal chances, we had a couple, two or three half chances," the Denmark great added. "There were not that many chances. A point for each (team) was a fair result."

Laudrup, who said he expects Chelsea to challenge for the title alongside Manchester United and Manchester City, added that it was a significant result on the back of Swansea's midweek League Cup victory over Liverpool.

"It has been an important week for the club," he added. "We have had three different results in the last week, but three very good performances.

"It's nice to see that we can play like that against the big ones with our style of playing. That's important for us."

Story first published on: Sunday, 04 November 2012 08:58 IST

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  • Football
  • Swansea City
  • Chelsea
  • Manchester City
  • Alex Ferguson
  • Mark Hughes
  • Pablo Hernández
  • English Premier League

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