Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte can only applaud Burnley after Chelsea are held at Turf Moor

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte paid tribute to Burnley despite his obvious disappointment after seeing his Premier League title-chasers held to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.

Conte's side, now 10 points clear of nearest challengers Tottenham at the top of the table, appeared to be on their way to a 17th win in 19 league games when Pedro fired them into a deserved early lead.

But Burnley, chasing an eighth straight win at Turf Moor in all competitions, hit back through Robbie Brady's stunning free-kick on his full debut and demonstrated why they have one of the best home records in the top flight this season.

"We must be disappointed to take only one point," said Conte, whose side struggled to create clear-cut chances in the face of fierce opposition.

"I have great respect for every type of football. I don't like to judge the other.

"I have great respect for any team, for any manager absolutely.

"Burnley are third in the table with the games played at home. It means they are doing a great job at home. That's the best compliment for them."

Burnley, bidding for a sixth straight home win in the Premier League, restricted Chelsea to snatching at half-chances and spurned a golden opportunity to grab a second goal when Matt Lowton was denied by Thibaut Courtois' brilliant save just before the break.

When asked why Burnley, promoted in May, are proving so formidable at home, Conte said: "The pitch is small and this is better for the team that has to defend and play this long ball.

"You have less pitch to cover and then there is a good atmosphere with the supporters and I think it's good.

"It's right to have this type of atmosphere at Burnley and for all these reasons they have all these points in the table.

"We put a lot of energy on the pitch today and we took only one point.

"We f ound a team that thought to disrupt our football, to play this long ball and to fight the second ball."

Conte refused to be drawn when asked about Jose Mourinho's comments in his press conference on Friday that Chelsea are a defensive team, relying on counter-attacks and set-pieces.

"I don't like to reply about the other coaches," Conte added.

"I don't like this joking. He's playing. I have the experience to understand this."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche was understandably delighted with his players' display and did not take offence at Conte's description of his side.

"Every manager has got to give their opinion," Dyche said.

"It's not a problem for me. The fact is we have got 30 points on the table and that's a fantastic marker so far.

"I know we need more, but you've got to remember, we're a team everybody thought had no chance.

"To get to where we are, I don't know if it's being disrespectful. He doesn't know all the work we do on the training ground.

"He wouldn't know the depth of all the analysis we use to get the players to perform.

"I don't expect him to know that. His job is to crack on with Chelsea like he is doing and he's doing a blooming good job as well."

Burnley hero Brady, a £10million deadline-day signing from Norwich, curled home a superb free-kick in the 24th minute, which Dyche described as "sublime".

And the Clarets boss could barely believe it when it was pointed out Chelsea had not conceded a goal direct from a free-kick in four seasons.

"Really? What's that all about?" he added.

"You see they didn't know that we'd been working on that all week. Thank you!

"I didn't know that, but it was a sublime free-kick against a top-class goalkeeper, who is a giant of a man.

"To find the area of the goal that he needed to was fantastic."

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