Steve Clarke was "flabbergasted" at Andre Marriner's decision to award Chelsea a stoppage-time penalty as West Bromwich Albion came within 19 seconds of becoming the first visiting team to beat José Mourinho's side in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
Marriner deemed Steven Reid's challenge on Ramires in the fourth minute of stoppage time to be worthy of a spot-kick, which was duly converted by Eden Hazard, restored to the side having been disciplined in midweek for missing a training session. Mourinho has now gone 66 home league matches in charge of Chelsea without experiencing defeat, with this the closest he has come to surrendering that record.
His former assistant, though, was incensed by the plot's late twist. "It's very hard to take, and I'm very disappointed and sad for my team because we deserved the three points," said Clarke . "I'm just disappointed a bad decision has cost us. That's three penalty decisions this year that have cost us five points, in my opinion. I just hope that doesn't come back to hurt us, because five points are hard to get in the Premier League.
"I haven't spoken to the referee, but what's the point? I can't change the decision. I'm flabbergasted at it. I can't believe he gave it. I saw it at the time. I've been in the game a long time and I knew [Ramires] was already on the way down before anyone was near him.
"The referee has to be 100% sure. How he can be 100% sure is beyond me. You can put a label on it if you want, but the onus is on the referee to make the right decision. He didn't make it. This should have been a fantastic result for us but, in the end, it's just a good result."
Mourinho, who confirmed the England full-back Ashley Cole had been dropped from the side after a sloppy display at Newcastle last week, disagreed having watched footage of the penalty incident. "It came at a moment when it's difficult for the team that were winning to accept, but this one was a penalty," he said. "From the bench I didn't know, no idea, but on the screen no doubts."
The Chelsea manager pointed instead to a perceived foul from Stéphane Sessègnon on Ivanovic in the buildup to the visitors' second goal. "It's a free-kick, just in front of the fourth official. That's where I think the fourth official's job, instead of looking to see if the manager is in his technical area or not, should be to influence the game."
The draw, while gratefully received in the end, left Chelsea four points adrift of Arsenal ahead of the leaders' game at Manchester United . Yet Mourinho took heart from his players' display. "I'm satisfied," he said. "The attitude in the first half was the correct one: be patient, wait because it's difficult to break a wall. Then their first goal was strange, and their second a referee's mistake. After that our reaction could be die or fight for life, and the team fought for life."