Fulham boss Mark Hughes insisted that Essien deserved to be red-carded and also raised questions over Chelsea’s goal.

Didier Drogba was injured in the Fulham penalty area when Essien headed home and Hughes conceded his side were caught off guard.

“The guy has jumped in with two feet, so it’s a straight red,” declared Hughes.

“As for the goal, that’s a disappointment from our point of view. We were distracted by Drogba lying prone in the box.

“You still have to play to the whistle, so maybe we were guilty of expecting the referee to blow up.

“He didn’t and we paid the penalty. It’s confusing the way the game is viewed in terms of when players go down: are they faking, and do you kick the ball out?

“We had that in the second half when we had the ball in a promising position, and ended up having the ball put out near our goal-line. Which was a bit ungentlemanly.

“I was pleased with the second-half performance. We showed belief. As the game progressed, we started to make more of an influence in the game and had two great efforts on goal.

“A goalkeeper with less ability than Petr Cech would have struggled to keep them out.

“We took the game to Chelsea in the second half and, with a bit of luck, might have got back on level terms.

“But I’m pleased we responded in that second half. I’ve been to games here where teams have gone under very quickly because they didn’t show the qualities needed. My team did show that quality.