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English Premiership

Mourinho sees champions quality

MOURINHO-CHAMPIONLONDON, April 13- Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea’s gritty 1-0 win at QPR had all the hallmarks of champions-elect.

Mourinho’s side moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League after Cesc Fabregas’s 88th minute goal settled a scrappy west London derby at Loftus Road.

The Blues need 12 more points from their remaining seven matches to be certain of claiming the English crown for the first time since 2010 and, although they were well below their best on Sunday, Mourinho was encouraged by the way they emerged unscathed from a tricky test.

It took a poor clearance from QPR goalkeeper Robert Green, seized on by Eden Hazard and eventually converted by Fabregas, to give Chelsea a win that even Mourinho admitted was probably more than they deserved.

But it was the way Chelsea kept their composure in such a heated contest that impressed Mourinho and reminded him of the way his previous title-winning teams, at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, all found a way to triumph in unpromising situations.

“Every time I was a champion I remember a couple of matches that my teams won in the last minute. It is like a little light that shines for the team that will be champions,” Mourinho said.

“It is difficult to play here, the pitch is small and 1.30pm is maybe not the best time to go into the game with intensity.

“They gave us a difficult match but we kept good emotional control and never lost balance. If we have to go home with 0-0 ok, but we kept going and got the goal. One point would have been fair but we played well with the circumstances.”

– Crucial showdowns –

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With crucial showdowns against Manchester United and then Arsenal looming over the next two weeks, Chelsea’s refusal to settle for a point could prove invaluable as it gives them more margin for error when they face their title rivals.

Asked if Chelsea’s victory would be a psychological blow to second placed Arsenal, who had closed the gap to four points on Saturday, Mourinho responded by demanding that his team be given respect for sitting joint top or top of the table since the opening day of the season.

“I don’t know if it hurts Arsenal or not but it is not normal for a team to be top of the table in August and arrive in April still top of the league,” Mourinho said.

“That is the team that deserves the credit. Other teams have had good runs, but we have had a good run since August.”

While Mourinho was right to praise his players’ steely focus, the Blues were indebted to Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made amends for some recent mistakes with two fine saves to deny Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips.

Courtois gifted Hull a goal in Chelsea’s win at the KC Stadium and was caught off his line by Charlie Adam’s 65-yard wonder-goal for Stoke last week.

“I said after Hull and Charlie Adam he needed to give us a couple of points. We needed a couple of saves and he did it,” Mourinho added.

The defeat was cruel on QPR, who remain two points from safety, and manager Chris Ramsey was left to rue one lapse in concentration that ruined an otherwise immaculate gameplan.

“I’m disappointed with the manner we let the goal in. I’m not blaming Rob. It wasn’t his best kick but we had plenty of time to defend, and for the first time in the game we didn’t deal with it,” he said.

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“I would have been more accepting if they had done something clever to pull a goal out of the bag. We could have defended miles better.

“All that running that everybody did has gone to waste. Saying that, the players were fantastic and hopefully that performance against a top team has given everybody hope.”

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