"And what I mean by competitive is to suffer when you need to suffer, to be solid, to be strong in your mind and always believe," he explained.
His words describe perfectly what was a controlled win and the definition of a professional performance.
Relatively untroubled all night thanks to a superbly-marshalled back three and defensive unit, we took a step forward in a game we’d had the better of with Dele Alli’s opening goal in first half added time and then secured our hold on it with the second goal 10 minutes into the second half. They were identical strikes, Christian Eriksen’s inch-perfect crosses headed home at the far post for the midfielder’s sixth and seventh goals in his last four matches. What a run.
We won tackles when we needed to, blocked shots when we needed to and Hugo Lloris wasn’t seriously tested. It was job more than well done. Chelsea’s winning streak in the Premier League ended at 13 and we jumped up to third in the table after registering a fifth win on the trot.
It was put to Mauricio that we seemed in control throughout. “Now we can say ‘yes’ but it was a very tough game,” he said. “We were playing one of the best teams in Europe and I thought we played very well, we were competitive and that’s important. It was a very solid performance, fantastic.”
What were the key elements to victory?
Mauricio: “For me, that we were competitive from the start. Okay, we can talk about different things, tactical situations but as a team we were competitive and showed great character.”
With everything on the game - last season, this season, Chelsea’s run, our run - how satisfied are you with what happened?
Mauricio: “Yes, but not for what happened last season. That chapter is closed. It’s because we’re ambitious and we want to improve and we want to learn and that is important, to improve every season. We’re in the most competitive league and we’re showing character and quality.”