José Mourinho has accused Luis Suárez of reverting to "wild" natural instincts by performing "an acrobatic swimming pool jump" in an attempt to win a late penalty, as Liverpool surrendered momentum in the title race to Chelsea.
Suárez appeared to be barged over inside the penalty area, and off the ball, by Samuel Eto'o seven minutes from time, with Howard Webb waving away the Uruguayan's appeals for a penalty. While contact was made, Mourinho was incensed on the bench and strode down the touchline to berate the visiting striker as he complained to the officials.
"The player [Suárez] is amazing and I love his quality, commitment and ambition to play," said Mourinho. "I know him from his time at Ajax. A very nice boy. He does everything to win, and Brendan [Rodgers] has done a very good job with him because he's changed. No doubt, he's changed. But when you are losing, the nature comes out of the player. The wild nature, the cultural nature of the player. Culturally, people from that area, they like it. Not just that area. There's a corner in Europe, where I belong too, where they like that too.
"One of the things we have good in this country is we don't like simulation. It's not good for our game. [César] Azpilicueta had the ball, he was leaving the box, and now Suárez is doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try and get the penalty because he's so clever he knows he's in the penalty area right in front of the Liverpool supporters. I hate players who try to provoke situations, and he tries too much to provoke these situations. Suárez lost that duel with Azpilicueta, Eto'o comes in and it looks like somebody shot him [Suárez] in the back. Webb is 10 metres away and the only mistake he made was not giving him a yellow card."
Mourinho declined to indicate whether he had seen the incident again on television after the game, preferring instead to suggest bias in the punditry. "There are lots of people on television, but nobody is a Chelsea man: [Jamie] Carragher, Liverpool; [Mark] Lawrenson, Liverpool; [Phil] Thompson, Liverpool; [Alan] Hansen, Liverpool; [Jamie] Redknapp, Liverpool. We don't have one. When I retire, at 75, I'll go as a pundit and defend Chelsea on television."
Rodgers preferred instead to point to Eto'o's crude challenge on Jordan Henderson in the first minute that might have earned the Cameroon forward – who would score the contest's decisive goal – a red card but did not even prompt yellow. "Let's talk about the first Eto'o incident when he should have been sent off," said the Liverpool manager, who lost Mamadou Sakho and Joe Allen to injury. "I know we scored from the free-kick, but that was a wild shank where he's come down his knee and shin and didn't even get a yellow card.
"That's the first 'wild' challenge. On the second one, Luis will always provoke a challenge from defenders in the box. That's why he's world-class. What he wouldn't expect is it coming from somebody off the ball. He blocks him. That could have been a penalty on another day as obstruction in the area. But he will defend his players. I will defend mine."
Rodgers will attempt to strengthen his squad in January to inject momentum back into Liverpool's campaign after the first successive league defeats of his 18-month tenure, albeit after encouraging displays at Manchester City and now Chelsea. "At City we were outstanding, and here we gave everything," he said. "We've shown that if we get the players back, and get some help in January, we'll be in the shake-up. If we can add to it and get some depth, that'll really help you in the second half of the season when you need it.
"It's still open. I'm looking forward to the fact we still have to play every big team apart from Manchester United at home, and Anfield's now a tough place to come. Christmas day, eating our turkey, we were top of the league. A few days later we're fifth. But it makes it really exciting."
He will speak to Philippe Coutinho and Sakho after they swapped shirts with Oscar and Eto'o respectively at half-time – "I don't like that," he said – with Mourinho ending buoyed by the striker's decisive goal. Chelsea travel to Southampton on New Year's Day without the injured Frank Lampard (hamstring) and Branislav Ivanovic (knee), and the suspended David Luiz, but having opened up a three-point gap from fourth-placed Everton.
"There is still a big difference between Manchester City and the other teams," he added. "Not just about quality, because we and other teams have quality. But they have quality, maturity, numbers of players, a group of strikers, physicality, experience, age, no young players, no old players, just players in the best stage (of their careers). For me, they are the favourites. For us, Arsenal and Liverpool to be around I think is a good achievement. This win was hard, but it was deserved."