Di Matteo defends Chelsea striker Drogba from criticism over diving and time-wasting

Roberto Di Matteo has claimed Didier Drogba’s actions against Barcelona helped Chelsea defeat the Champions League holders when the sides met in the semi-finals of the competition earlier this week, the Daily Telegraph has reported. Di Matteo had previously revealed Drogba would not play in Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Arsenal after his midweek exertions.

The newspaper notes that while Drogba was criticised in some quarters for writhing on the floor in apparent agony after the merest hint of a challenge, the interim Chelsea manager insisted the striker was overall a benefit to the side.

Di Matteo said: “Drogba was very helpful to the team. He gave us an outlet and scored a vital goal. I was very pleased with him. He was marked most of the time by two men and got a physical battering.

The Italian’s comments come as a furore rages over diving, after Ashley Young won two controversial penalties in as many weeks for Manchester United, leading Sir Alex Ferguson to reveal he had spoken with the winger over the situation. But Di Matteo rejected the idea that he needed to have a similar conversation with Drogba or any of his Chelsea players, insisting that the players in his squad were of a fair-minded nature.

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