Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte keen to praise Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata

Morata missed a golden chance but Conte highlighted his selfless work.

Alvaro Morata (centre) was unable to beat Nick Pope
Alvaro Morata (centre) was unable to beat Nick Pope

Antonio Conte singled out Alvaro Morata for praise after Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Burnley despite the striker missing a golden chance and reacting angrily following his substitution.

Morata, who has only scored one Premier League goal since December, looked set to double the lead given to Chelsea by a Kevin Long own goal when he ran through on Nick Pope’s goal 10 minutes after half-time only to place his shot wide.

Burnley subsequently equalised when Ashley Barnes inadvertently deflected in Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s shot but Victor Moses earned Chelsea victory, which sees them close to within five points of fourth-placed Tottenham.

Conte made six changes ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Southampton, including playing a front two of Morata and Olivier Giroud, and he highlighted the selfless work of the strike pair as crucial to the win that just about keeps their Champions League hopes alive.

“The only way to keep a hope for us is to try to get three points in every game,” said the Chelsea boss. “It won’t be easy because we have a gap of five points with Tottenham. But we have to try.

“Tonight I saw a great team spirit. Giroud and Morata I think they played a fantastic game with a great sacrifice without the ball. This is the first time that I’ve tried this solution with the two strikers; I had great responses and for sure in the future it could be a good option.”

Conte felt Morata’s reaction to coming off in the 71st minute was one of frustration with himself rather than the substitution.

The Italian said: “I think Alvaro must be angry because when you have a chance to score, you have to score, especially for a striker. A lot of times when you score it changes your confidence. I think he was very angry with himself.”

The headlines on the eve of the match were dominated by Conte’s comments that Burnley boss Sean Dyche, a contender for manager of the year, has an easier job than those in the hotseat at the big clubs.

Dyche had no issue with Conte’s remarks, but said: “It’s a different thing. Those clubs in the top six, certainly four of the top six, are looking to win something every year.

“But what I would say is that means 14 others of us are all trying to win something else because winning in the Premier League is first of all staying in the Premier League. It’s a different kind of winning.

“That club aren’t going to go out of business. Our club is not only winning as in winning games, it’s winning for the whole community, people’s jobs and stuff. But I’ve got no problem with his angle at all.”

The result ended Burnley’s run of five successive wins and prevented them leapfrogging Arsenal into sixth, but there was no disappointment from Dyche.

He said: “I was really pleased, I thought we were at it, I just think you’re playing the top sides, and when you’re playing the top sides it’s a different kind of feel to a game.

“There’s a lot of noise about Chelsea, you see the changes they made, the money that’s been spent on them, they ain’t bad I tell you. We’ve moved forward a long way but there’s still a gap between clubs like ourselves and the top six.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph