Belfast Telegraph

Conte delighted to see Chelsea get back on title track

 

By Simon Peach

Antonio Conte was satisfied to tick off another game on Chelsea's march to the Premier League title. Two goals from Eden Hazard saw off Manchester City 2-1 and kept the Blues seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham with eight games left.

Spurs had closed the gap at the weekend as Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace but Blues boss Conte was relieved to return to winning ways against City.

Conte said: "(It was) another step - a big step - against a great team. They have a lot of qualities.

"I think we showed we are a great team, to win a difficult game after a defeat against Crystal Palace. It wasn't easy to reply very well in this way. I'm satisfied because of this but we have to continue this way.

"We must think that Tottenham could win all their games. We need 18 points to win the title. I think we are playing great this season but to win the title there is a long way to go.

"I'm looking tired because I feel like I played it tonight with my players, I suffered with them.

"At this time of the season it's easy to be nervous. There's a lot of pressure. In the last game we lost and we didn't deserve to.

"I think it's right to think we will be pushed to the end. When you see your opponents continue to win, you must win to win the title. That's all we have to do."

Hazard was happy to play his part in a scrappy victory. He scored the opener and put Chelsea back ahead from the rebound of his own saved penalty after Sergio Aguero had equalised for the visitors.

"It is a big win," the Belgian winger said.

"I don't know if the way we played was beautiful but the most important thing is to win games. I think the way we played we can do better but after a defeat it's good to come back here and win three points.

"We have eight games to play. We want to finish top. That's the target. We have to be ready for everything.

"We are nearly there but there is a long way to go. We have some difficult games but we are ready for everything."

City boss Pep Guardiola conceded his side's title challenge was over and they were now needing to battle to make the top four.

Guardiola's team are winless in four league games and are just four points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand.

"The Premier League is gone and of course it will now be a battle to qualify for the Champions League," said the City manager.

"We created chances to win. I'm a lucky man, to be manager of this club. Hopefully they keep me in charge and I would like next season to move the team a step forward.

"I'm happy with the way we played here at Stamford Bridge with such personality."

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