Jose Mourinho had a double break with tradition on Wednesday as he strolled on to the pitch to hug goalkeeper Petr Cech then praised a "fantastically disallowed" Chelsea goal shortly before Willian`s 89th-minute shot secured a 1-0 home win over Everton.
Mourinho usually disappears down the tunnel before the last note of the final whistle has died away but, fired up by the last-gasp victory that kept Chelsea seven points ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League, he made a beeline for Cech.
Cech, recalled in place of Thibaut Courtois, made two excellent saves with his left leg to deny Romelu Lukaku, the second a brilliant reaction effort to stop his fellow Belgian’s point-blank side-foot effort.
"He touched the ball twice. The one in the half was a very good save, the second half was a super save," Mourinho told reporters.
"In every training session I felt his condition was magnificent so I felt he was the best option today."
Everton boss Roberto Martinez agreed.
"Petr Cech’s reflexes made the difference tonight," he said.
The saves kept Chelsea in the game and they looked to have had to settle for a point when Nemanja Matic`s shot in the 85th minute went in via a deflection from Branislav Ivanovic only to be disallowed for offside.
"It was a very good refereeing performance," said Mourinho, who has spent most of the season berating officials and has the fines to show for it.
"We had a goal which was fantastically well disallowed by the assistant referee. A great decision."
There was no denying Mourinho’s relief at the victory, all the more important with City winning 4-1 at Stoke City to keep the pressure up.
"Big game, big game," he said. "I’ve never won a championship anywhere without some games that are won like that.
"It was a different Everton tonight. Defensive, very well organised and compact, very dangerous on the counter attack.
"We tried everything and the spirit was amazing and everyone was inside their box for the last 10 or 15 minutes and in the end we got a very important goal.
The only sour note for Chelsea could be some retrospective punishment for Ivanovic for the hint of a head-butt on James McCarthy during a melee following the sending-off of Everton midfielder Gareth Barry moments before the goal.
"Don’t make me laugh," Mourinho said when asked about the incident, before threatening to walk out of the news conference unless the subject was dropped.