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Wilkins defends Scolari after Chelsea card controversy

Thursday, January 29, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:17 AM

LONDON – Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins defended Luiz Felipe Scolari after the Blues boss appeared to encourage referee Lee Probert to send off a Middlesbrough player at Stamford Bridge.

Wilkins defends Scolari after Chelsea card controversy Chelsea's Ivorian player Salomon Kalou (R) vies for the ball against Middlesbrough's Anthony

Scolari and Boro assistant Malcolm Crosby were involved in heated exchanges moments before half-time when Crosby took exception to the Brazilian waving an imaginary card from the touchline after Mohamed Shawky handled the ball.

Shawky had already been cautioned and Scolari's actions were perceived to be an attempt to get the Egyptian midfielder dismissed.

"It's a very emotional game," said Wilkins after Chelsea's 2-0 victory. "Passions do run high -- they ran high on their bench, they ran high on ours."

Wilkins said he was all in favour of the Football Association's recent 'Respect' campaign which is designed to reduce such behaviour by management and players.

"I'm all for respect -- but if the referee felt he needed to be sent to the stands then he would have done so.

"(Assistant referee) Steve Bennett was on the side so he didn't advise the referee to send him to the stands so they must have felt it was OK."

Boro boss Gareth Southgate played down the incident though he was puzzled at Scolari's refusal to shake hands with him after the game.

"There were words exchanged between my assistant and Scolari - he wanted to get one of our players booked and we weren't happy with that," said Southgate.

"He didn't shake hands with me, which is a bit strange, but that's his prerogative."

A pair of goals from Salomon Kalou saw Chelsea to a comfortable win, moving them to second spot in the table.

The Ivory Coast striker netted in the 58th and 81st minutes to ensure the Blues condemned relegation candidates Boro to an 11th consecutive league game without a win.

Victory Scolari's side saw them close to within two points of league leaders Manchester United and ahead of Liverpool on goal difference after the Merseysiders were held 1-1 at Wigan Athletic.

Chelsea travel to Anfield on Sunday and Scolari will be confident after seeing his side notch up their fourth straight victory in all competitions.

Captain John Terry returned to the Blues' defence following a back injury while midfielder John Obi Mikel, suspended for the FA Cup win over Ipswich on Saturday, replaced Juliano Belletti, who was ruled out through illness.

Chelsea looked threatening from the start and a promising run by Kalou after six minutes saw the Ivorian beat two tacklers before being muscled off the ball.

Shawky was booked three minutes later for a scything challenge on Florent Malouda.

Chelsea's best chance of the half came when Jose Bosingwa found Ashley Cole at the back post in the 13th minute, but the England left-back could only send his downward header into the side netting.

Didier Drogba was brought on for Malouda at the interval and the 30-year-old frontman immediately worked an opening before screwing his shot across goal.

The Blues had the lead in the 58th minute when Kalou lashed home from eight yards.

Kalou wrapped up the points when Boro keeper Ross Turnbull missed a Frank Lampard cross and the striker nodded in from six yards, nine minutes from the end.

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