Chelsea ‘fight­ers’ give Spurs Wem­b­ley blues

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

HEAD COACH Antonio Conte lauded his “fight­ers” af­ter Chelsea ex­tended Tot­ten­ham’s Wem­b­ley woe with a 2-1 Pre­mier League win.

Mar­cos Alonso scored an 88thminute win­ner af­ter Michy Bat­shuayi’s own goal had can­celled out the Spa­niard’s ear­lier free-kick as Chelsea re­sponded from the hu­mil­i­at­ing open­ing loss to Burn­ley.

Tot­ten­ham laid siege on the Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons’ goal at times, but now have just two wins in 11 at­tempts since Wem­b­ley re­opened in 2007. And the na­tional sta­dium is their home this sea­son.

“To play against Tot­ten­ham, away, and to win is a fan­tas­tic re­sult. It’s not easy,” said Conte.

“I want to thank my play­ers. Ev­ery one. I saw to­day the fight­ers. I saw a lot of pos­i­tive things in a mo­ment that’s not easy for us with the sus­pen­sions and the in­juries.

“I’m very happy when I see this type of game. I’m not speak­ing about foot­ball, but this spirit, this heart, this de­sire.

“This sea­son we started with the first half not so good against Burn­ley but, in the sec­ond half, they showed me again a great spirit. We tried to change the fi­nal re­sult and scored two goals with 10 men and nine men.

“We have to con­tinue to con­sider there are great dif­fi­cul­ties in this sea­son, but the only way we can get through these dif­fi­cul­ties is to work.”

With Diego Costa in ex­ile, Eden Haz­ard still re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken an­kle and a thin squad fol­low­ing sales, loans and sus­pen­sions, Conte says Chelsea showed the spirit of cham­pi­ons on the field.

Conte added: “We showed great de­sire to stay com­pact, not lose the balance. To show, also to be the cham­pi­ons. It was very im­por­tant, this.”

Match­win­ner Alonso, with eight goals, has scored more than any other de­fender in Eng­lish foot­ball since his ar­rival. But Conte wants more.

Conte added: “I’m not sur­prised. Alonso missed a lot of other chances to im­prove his (tally last sea­son).

“For me, the wing-backs are the real wingers. Some­times they must be­come strik­ers.”

It was Spurs boss Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s first home league de- feat in 14 Lon­don der­bies. Tot­ten­ham com­pleted an en­tire league sea­son un­beaten at White Hart Lane last term for the first time in 52 years, in­clud­ing a Jan­uary vic­tory which ended Chelsea’s 13game win­ning run in the league.

Po­chet­tino re­fuses to be­lieve Wem­b­ley was a fac­tor in the loss. Spurs will play at the na­tional sta­dium as the con­struc­tion of the new White Hart Lane is con­cluded. “Wem­b­ley was not the prob­lem,” said Po­chet­tino. “The ‘Wem­b­ley ef­fect’ is not the rea­son we lost the game. It doesn’t af­fect me. But I un­der­stand that we need to talk, ev­ery­one needs to talk.

“Wem­b­ley is one of the best places in the world, one of the best places to play foot­ball.”


DOU­BLE DE­LIGHT: Mar­cos Alonso cel­e­brates giv­ing Chelsea the lead for a sec­ond and de­ci­sive time in the Lon­don derby with Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur at Wem­b­ley yes­ter­day.

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