Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas dedicated his team’s Carling Cup victory over Everton to under-fire club captain John Terry.
Terry had been accused by Anton Ferdinand of making racist comments during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League on Sunday.
The centre-back was left out of the Chelsea team that travelled to face Everton in the fourth round of the Carling Cup on Wednesday.
Villas-Boas claimed the skipper’s absence was due to the fact he has already received four yellow cards this season, and is one more booking away from a suspension.
The 30-year-old is also waiting on the findings of a Football Association enquiry into Ferdinand’s allegations.
Without Terry, Chelsea needed an extra-time goal from Daniel Sturridge to get past Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park, where both teams finished with 10 men.
“The spirit of the players took us through,” Villas-Boas told Sky Sports. “I think all of the players would like to dedicate the win to John Terry.”
“We deserved it for what we put on as an effort and for the football we played.”
“We were very committed, we showed resilience and strength of character once again.”
Chelsea, who had Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba sent off against QPR, suffered another dismissal against Everton, when reserve goalkeeper Ross Turnbull saw red for bringing down Louis Saha inside the box.
Substitute Petr Cech saved Leighton Baines’ spot-kick, and Everton midfielder Royston Drenthe later received his marching orders in extra-time.
“We went down to 10 men, unfortunately, once again and made things even more difficult but we were able to triumph in difficulty and these are good signs for us,” Villas-Boas said.
“We got one of the most difficult draws, Everton away with one of their strongest sides.”
“They showed they wanted to go through this phase but we were able, not only to play good football, but show good commitment and desire.”
“It shows we are progressing and it is very satisfying for everybody.”
Everton boss David Moyes felt his side, playing with a man advantage during regulation time, were unfortunate not to win.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose,” he said. “Certainly over 90 minutes we should have won the game.”
“We have only got ourselves to blame for not winning it in 90 minutes.”
“Someone has got to win, someone has got to lose and we lost this time.”