Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Antonio Conte defends Cesc Fabregas for red card challenge on Ragnar Klavan

Marko Grujic taken to hospital with suspected concussion after collision with Chelsea's Bertrand Traore

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has revealed Cesc Fabregas visited the Liverpool changing room to apologise to Ragnar Klavan after being sent off during the pre-season victory in Los Angeles.

The 29-year-old was dismissed with 20 minutes to play at the Rose Bowl Stadium after Gary Cahill’s 10th minute opener to give the Blues a winning start to their International Champions Cup campaign in the United States.

“In this period the fatigue can sometimes bring a bit of going too late,” Conte explained at full-time, “and I know Fabregas is a good man and it is not his habit to have this sort of situation.”

Fabregas, who has been linked with a summer move to join former manager Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, slid into a late challenge on Klavan, a new Liverpool signing from Augsburg. The former Arsenal midfielder's future at Stamford Bridge remains in doubt after a poor showing during Chelsea's disastrous title defence last term.

“The way the ref was giving yellow cards then probably yes, it was fair,” the Spaniard said at full-time.

“In the Premier League, probably you could get away with it. I got there late, he got a toe to the ball and then I was anxious to win the ball. It was a hard tackle, so I accept it and move on.

“[The referee] didn't have the game under control but that's what happens. At the end of the day it's a friendly.”

Chelsea’s transatlantic fanbase got the opportunity to see £32m striker Michy Batshuayi in action during a heated contest in Southern California between two of the sides backed to challenge for the Premier League title next season.

Conte continued: “When two great teams face each other in a game, nobody wants to lose and for this reason I saw a competitive game. I was pleased with my team because I saw the right spirit and a lot of positive things, but I know and my players know that we can improve a lot.

“I am pleased with the attitude today and also that when we played with 10 men we didn’t suffer. Don’t forget we are working very hard with two training sessions every day and it is a good attitude.

“The most important thing today was to see the right spirit in my team and the will to fight to win a friendly game. This is the right way.”

Jurgen Klopp revealed that Fabregas apologised after the game for his late tackle.

"[Fabregas] was in the dressing room and said sorry. He came too late in the challenge of course and sometimes in life, if you are too late then you get a red card - especially in football - and that's how it was."

Meanwhile Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic was taken to hospital, suffering from suspected concussion, after he collided with Chelsea's Bertrand Traore towards the end of the first half.

Klopp told his post-match press conference: "The biggest problem for me in this moment is that Marko Grujic is in hospital, because he can't remember anything. That's not too cool.

"Hopefully it's not too serious but of course a young boy in this situation is not too cool. Injuries after games like this in pre-season is the biggest problem obviously."


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