Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has lauded Branislav Ivanovic after his winning goal against Aston Villa, putting the defender on par with John Terry and Eden Hazard, ESPN has reported.
Ivanovic netted late on to give the Blues a 2-1 win at Villa Park after Hazard opened the scoring in the first-half. Jores Okore equalised before the break but Ivanovic scored with a left-footed volley, his fifth goal in his last six games and a strike Mourinho rated highly.
Mourinho added that Ivanovic, who moved to Stamford Bridge after Mourinho had ended his first spell at the club, is a crucial player in the squad, for his attitude as much as anything else. “He came immediately after I left and after that he made a fantastic contribution for this club,” Mourinho said. “He is a competitive animal. A big heart.
“What really matters more is what we as a club feel for him and people like John [Terry] and Gary [Cahill], guys that without them you cannot do anything,” the Portuguese continued. “A team is an artist like [Eden] Hazard, it is a defender like Branislav. The mix and combination of talent makes a team. Every striker in the world would be proud to score that magnificent goal, it is an amazing goal.”
Ivanovic has been a Chelsea player since a 2008 move from Lokomotiv Moscow, signed by Mourinho’s successor Avram Grant. The Serbia international has since made more than 300 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 29 goals, and winning the Premier League title in 2009-10, the FA Cup three times, the 2012-13 Europa League and, the season before, the Champions League. Ivanovic was man of the match in the Europa League final.
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