Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas defended £50m striker Fernando Torres afterhis horror miss in the 3-1 defeat at Manchester United - and insists his side will now emerge as serious title contenders.
Torres scored his first goal of the season at Old Trafford but was later guilty of embarrassingly squandering an open goal at the Stretford End after rounding United goalkeeper David de Gea.
It marred an improved Torres performance, but Villas-Boas was in no mood to condemn Chelsea's British record signing as he saw positive signs thathe believes will see his side challenge champions United in the Premier League.
He said: "You have to be fair. We have seen two of the world's best strikers miss crazy opportunities, Fernando with his miss and Wayne Rooney with his penalty. This is nothing dramatic but sometimes it becomes something."
Villas-Boas added: "I thought everybody was fantastic with the effort they put in and in being able to mentally react to what happened.
"We were 3-0 down at half-time, which was unfair,and if it had gone the wrong way it could have been 5-0. It was good the way the team was able to assume responsibility for things not going their way. It takes some courage for the players to assume this."
And the 33-year-old Portuguese said: "We tried everything to win this game but it was impossible.It just didn't fall our way, not only in terms of opportunities but also refereeing decisions."
Villas-Boas, however, was hugely encouraged by Chelsea's display in defeat, saying: "The most important thing is that we believe in the way we are playing and it is for the benefit of everyone. It is the fans we have to please with the way we play."
He said: "The five contenders are up there and anything can happen. The most regular is Manchester United at the moment but we showedwe are up to the level of the champions.
"We will be up there competing with them for the title and I'm glad Sir Alex corroborates this opinion."