Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte targets more silverware after Chelsea seal Premier League title

Boss Antonio Conte set his sights on further glory with Chelsea after securing the Premier League title with a 1-0 win at West Brom.

Second-placed Tottenham's loss at West Ham last Friday and Chelsea's 3-0 defeat of Middlesbrough on Monday meant the Blues needed three points from three games to clinch the championship.

Conte wanted to secure the trophy at the earliest opportunity and Michy Batshuayi was an unlikely hero after 82 minutes at The Hawthorns.

The win saw Chelsea - 10th last term as Leicester succeeded them as champions - take an unassailable 10-point lead over Spurs with two games to spare, clinching the Blues' fifth Premier League title in 13 seasons.

They will seek to complete a double in Conte's first season by winning the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 27.

"I think that now it's very important to enjoy this moment and to celebrate this win. To win in England is not easy," Conte said.

"Don't forget last season was a bad season for the club, for the players, for the fans.

"Only one year later to celebrate this win in a league where there are for me big, big teams with great players, great managers, it's great.

"It's important to celebrate now. We have also another target to try to reach. We worked very hard to reach the final in the FA Cup.

"Then it's important to prepare in the right way next season."

Batshuayi was not even among the substitutes on Monday and is still to make a Premier League start.

The Belgium striker, a £33million signing from Marseille last summer, made his 18th Premier League appearance off the bench and finally showed his poacher's instinct, seven minutes later, with his second league goal to delight Chelsea and Conte.

The Italian was injured in the celebrations and h e said: "In those moments anything can happen. I don't remember (what happened).

"I don't remember if it was a header or a punch. It's not important. I'm ready to repeat this."

Conte was drenched by iced water from a cool box poured by Asmir Begovic and in champagne poured by a semi-naked Diego Costa on his return to the dressing room.

Conte, who attended his post-match media conference in a tracksuit, said: "I have to change my suit because my suit is a disaster now.

"It's right to enjoy, celebrate with your players, with the fans, with my staff, with the club.

"This is a dream that is coming true. For sure this is a dream."

Players streamed footage of the dressing room celebrations as live on their social media accounts, with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku responding to Thibaut Courtois' posts and praising Batshuayi. Lukaku has been linked with a return to Chelsea this summer.

Diego Costa and David Luiz brought Conte's post-match media conference to an abrupt end to continue the celebrations, before impatiently waiting for their boss to conclude a further media commitment.

Batshuayi was derided at times and had little opportunity, but Conte insisted he trusted the striker to have an impact.

Conte added: "Michy repaid me a lot for this choice. My substitution was very good!"

It is Chelsea's second Premier League title in three campaigns, following the 2014-15 success under Jose Mourinho. The Blues imploded as seven months later the Portuguese was sacked for a second time.

Conte joined on a three-year contract last July and had been set a pre-season target of securing a top-four place and Champions League qualification.

He has surpassed the expectations of even owner Roman Abramovich, who offered his congratulations via technical director Michael Emenalo.

An improved contract offer is likely, especially as Inter Milan covet the former Juventus and Italy boss.

Conte pointed to September's 3-0 loss at Arsenal, which prompted a change in formation to 3-4-3, as a pivotal moment.

"I found the strength to take the responsibility to change system, to find a new suit for these players," he said.

"I think it was the key moment for us. Every single player found in this system the best for them."

West Brom were stubborn and threatened on the counter-attack, with boss Tony Pulis disappointed by the loss.

Pulis said: "We just wanted to make a tough night. We didn't want them coming to town and just rolling us over.

"That would have been a travesty for this football club and this team, who have worked so hard all season.

"They're the best team in the land this year. They've proved that.

"You don't need them getting that slice of luck. The goal was a disappointment to us.

"They deserve the title. Fair play to them. Well done to Antonio.

"It's just disappointing that they've done it tonight at our place. We would've like to have stopped that."

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