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Portuguese tactician does not deny foul merited red card, but believes linesman must take responsibility for mistakes which made his players lose their discipline

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has jumped to the defence of Ashley Cole after his challenge on Javier Hernandez in the Blues’ 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

"Maybe he wouldn't get sent off if the linesman does his work," the Portuguese tactician told reporters. "He would have been less emotionally drained. "I work the other way round. You are trying to say the referee did something wrong. I cannot forget the previous two."

Cole made the challenge as Hernandez pounced on the rebound of a Wayne Rooney effort which struck the post towards the end of the Old Trafford crunch clash, catching him just below the knee.

Referee Phil Dowd booked the England international, but decided against awarding a penalty as he deemed the ball had left the field of play at the point of contact.

The challenge, which forced Hernandez to be substituted and could keep him out for several weeks, was afterwards described as “shocking” by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

But Villas-Boas believes his player would not have resorted to such measures if the match officials had disallowed United’s first two goals, both of which were later revealed to have been marginally offside.

"If it was 0-0 maybe Ashley is a little bit more mentally in control of the situation and doesn't do the red card foul that you mention."

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