Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck a free kick in the 39th minute following a Mikel foul, and according to Ferdinand, the West African was not guilty of pulling his weight and doing his defensive duties in the wall, merely sticking out his foot rather than putting his own body on the line for the good of the team.
The Swedish superstar’s free kick duly reflected off Mikel’s foot and flew past Thibaut Courtois into the back of the Chelsea goal.
“In the changing rooms I’m sure they’re saying ‘what are you doing?'” Ferdinand began, speaking to BT Sport [as per the The Sun].
“If you’re not going to have the balls to stand there then don’t be in the wall,” Ferdinand continued. “Every player has done it at some point in their career but, when you get punished like that, it gets highlighted so there is no place to hide for you.”
Mikel duly made amends—and saved face—when he slammed home the equaliser for Chelsea in the 46th minute following an assist from Diego Costa.
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“He’s (Mikel) just fortunate he went up the other end and scored after,” Ferdinand continued. “You have got to stay strong, you’ve got stay front-on and really want to take the ball in the face.”
Despite demonstrating tenacity to fight their way back into the match, Chelsea were hit with a sucker punch in the 78th minute when substitute Edinson Cavani controlled Angel Di Maria’s long ball before firing home beneath Courtois.