David Luiz hailed Eden Hazard after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Liverpool, while denying Jose Mourinho’s claim that he deliberately earned a booking so he could enjoy some time off over the New Year period.
Mourinho interrupted the players’ post-match interviews to congratulate the pair and to tell Luiz that he could head home to Portugal for a few days after picking up a yellow card which will see him suspended for the trip to Southampton on New Year’s Day.
“I’m making fun,” Mourinho said. “But now he can go to Portugal.”
Liverpool snatched a fourth-minute lead through Martin Skrtel but Hazard scored a fine equaliser before Samuel Eto’o completed the turnaround before half-time.
“Of course it is not very good to (concede) a goal in the first minutes but there was a really strong mentality in the team, we gave everything on the pitch and it was magic tonight,” Luiz said. “Eden had a great game tonight and I’m happy we have players like Eden in the team because then I see amazing football.”
The win keeps Chelsea in third, just two points from leaders Arsenal.
“We will keep fighting for the title,” Luiz added.
The Portuguese was booked five minutes into the second half for a tug on Joe Allen’s shirt but laughed off Mourinho’s claims.
“I didn’t know I had four yellows,” he said.
“But if he says I can have some days I’m happy of course.”
Captain John Terry became the fourth Chelsea player to make 600 appearances for the club.
Arsenal ensured they would end the year at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 1-0 win at Newcastle.
Olivier Giroud touched on a Theo Walcott free-kick after 65 minutes to provide the decisive moment in a closely-fought contest.