Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Chelsea boss Hiddink defends Hazard after swapping shirts with Di Maria during PSG loss

GUUS HIDDINK refused to condemn Eden Hazard after he swapped shirts with Angel Di Maria while Chelsea were fighting for their Champions League lives.

The Belgian was booed by Chelsea fans when substituted during his side's loss at Stamford Bridge at the hands of a Paris Saint-Germain side that had eliminated them from the competition last season.

Manager Hiddink made it clear he understood the supporters' frustrations but was quick to plead the player's case.

"I haven't seen it but I'm aware," he said.

"Yeah, it should not be done but in some countries it's usual you do it, and not after the game. In some countries and some clubs it's in their culture. Maybe they are both used to doing that.

"It's not a big issue for me or for them. In other countries they swap shirts at half-time rather than afterwards as it can leave them half naked on the pitch and they're not beautiful paintings. I don't think it was done with any bad intentions."

Diego Costa was Chelsea's star performer and scored in betweeen Adrien Rabiot's opener and a second-half winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Spain forward was carrying an injury however and had to go off, making him a major doubt for the FA Cup quarter-final clash with Everton on Saturday.

"We'll see if there's big damage tomorrow," said Hiddink.

"Diego was desperate to play, although not 100 per cent fit but he was desperate. I don't know if that has become worse."

The night was a big triumph for Ibrahimovic, who was sent off in the first half in last season's game at Stamford Bridge, with his team-mates squeezing through on away goals.

This time it was a far more enjoyable experience for the Swede, who could be arriving in the Premier League next season.

"I stayed more than 20 minutes on the pitch this year!" he said.

"We did a good game, very stable. We played with lots of patient possession and when we had a chance to strike we scored two goals. We had enough to win the game.

"Overall we played the way we wanted to. It was not easy, you have to watch out. Chelsea's front four are able to do anything.

"We are doing good things, where we end up we don't know. We are not satisfied yet."

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