Soccer-Mourinho relieved as Chelsea see off spirited Palace


By Michael Hann

LONDON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho breathed a sigh of relief after his Chelsea side beat plucky Crystal Palace 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to move within two points of Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Chelsea took the lead through Fernando Torres in the 16th minute but allowed resurgent Moroccan Marouane Chamakh to equalise before the half-hour as the ex-Arsenal striker scored in three straight Premier League matches for the first time.

Chelsea hit back six minutes later with what proved to be the winning goal when Brazil midfielder Ramires powered a shot past a motionless Julian Speroni from the edge of the area.

"I was expecting big problems," Mourinho told reporters.

"They are very well organised by Tony (Pulis) and they wait for the right moment to put the ball in the box and fight for the second ball. When I was reading the game and analysing the situation I was feeling the game could go in both directions."

Chelsea last played Palace in 2005, the year Mourinho won the first of two league titles with the west London club, and he was asked at the post-match news conference what the different was between that side and his current crop of players.

"Ten years ago I had a phone that weighed two kilos and today I have a BlackBerry - it is the evolution of the times," said the Portuguese coach, who is now unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in 68 Premier League games.

"This league is very different, my team is different, my players are different, our philosophy of playing football is also different.

"I don't think its something we should do to compare different periods and different generations."

Chelsea could be first if they beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Dec. 23 but Mourinho discounted the importance of leading the table with less than half the season completed.

"To be top of the league by December or even by the end of January, I don't think is crucial," he said.

"I think this will be open till very, very late. It's a very hard league. The distances open and close, open and close.

"Of course we will go there and we will try to win." (Editing by Josh Reich)

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