Alex McLeish was full of praise for Ben Foster after the Birmingham goalkeeper put his mistake against France when on England duty behind him with a string of superb saves that played a major role in inflicting Chelsea's second consecutive Premier League defeat.
"I've always said a good keeper is paramount," said the Birmingham manager as his side climbed out of the bottom three. "He can win you championships, earn you points, save you points, or keep your team in the division.
"Ben has been superb for us. I thought the criticism of him with England was a bit harsh.He made some great saves today and in other games and has been on top form since he came here."
McLeish conceded that Birmingham enjoyed good fortune after being under pressure for the majority of the game. "We got a bit of luck but I would say that in recent weeks we have deserved to win games which never went our way. We have had plenty of bad luck this season so far. Maybe we got a bit of luck today."
Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, insisted that only the result disappointed him after Lee Bowyer's first goal in nearly 12 months doomed Chelsea to successive league defeats for the first time in four and a half years. Said Ancelotti: "I've already said to the players 'don't lose confidence because you played good football.' The result is frustrating but they deserved to win.
"We didn't win because we were unlucky and because Ben Foster played a good game.
"A month ago I said when we were doing well that there would be difficult moments ahead. This is one of them."
Ancelotti refused to blame the departure of his assistant Ray Wilkins for Chelsea's slide in fortunes and declined to comment on Wilkins' claim that he had been unfairly dismissed.
Blackpool 2 // Wolves 1
Mick McCarthy admitted the pressure was mounting after Wolverhampton Wanderers slipped to yet another defeat yesterday, this time against Blackpool. The 2-1 defeat was their ninth loss in their last 11 games and McCarthy said: “If you are not getting results the pressure mounts but I don’t sit and worry about that. I worry about not getting points.”
Liverpool 3 // West Ham 0
Liverpool returned to winning ways in comfortable fashion with a 3-0 victory but their task was made easy by a woeful West Ham United side at Anfield in last night’s late game. First-half goals from Glen Johnson and Maxi Rodriguez, either side of a Dirk Kuyt penalty, were enough to wrap up the points. Robert Green kept the score down with a string of fine saves but the Hammers remain bottom.
Manchester United 2 // Wigan 0
Wayne Rooney made his first appearance for Manchester United since the contract saga that saw him threaten to leave before signing a new five-year deal. He came off the bench after 57 minutes mainly to cheers although there were some jeers, too. “That [the reception] was good – that will be pleasing for him,” said Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager.
West Brom 0 // Stoke 3
Tony Pulis said he was content to let others get excited after his team extended their winning run in the league to three games with victory at West Brom. “It is a great achievement by the players, but as I have said, whether you are losing or winning, I think it is important the manager stays as level as he possibly can,“ said the Stoke manager. “It is a great achievement by the player,” he added.