London (AFP) – Juan Mata has spoken out in defence of team-mate Fernando Torres after the Chelsea striker was sent off during his side's 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
Torres was shown a second yellow card in the 81st minute of Saturday's Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane after leading with his arm in an aerial challenge with Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.
The Spanish striker was also criticised for scratching Vertonghen's face in an earlier incident that saw him receive his first caution, but Mata believes that he is not a malicious player.
"I don't know (about the red card), but Fernando is not a player who goes to hurt," Mata told the Chelsea website.
Mata's introduction at half-time tipped the balance of the game in Chelsea's favour and he went on to tee up John Terry for an equaliser that cancelled out Gylfi Sigurdsson's 19th-minute opener.
Mata has started just two league games this season, with manager Jose Mourinho having expressed concerns about his work rate, but the Spaniard says he is determined to prove his worth.
"Obviously everyone wants to play, but I am a professional, I respect all of my team-mates and what I want to do is enjoy it on the pitch, and I think against Tottenham I did that," Mata said.
"We needed to improve and we tried to, and when I came on I just tried to give my best for the team.
"It is what I did since I came and it is what I am going to do until the end. I am happy with the second half, but it wasn't enough to win.
"Last season we won here and this season we wanted to win again. It wasn't possible, but the team showed that we can fight until the end."