Belfast Telegraph

Morata showed mettle to end goal wait, says thrilled Conte

Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2

Huge relief: Alvaro Morata fires home his first goal since Boxing Day to help Chelsea progress to the FA Cup semi-finals
Huge relief: Alvaro Morata fires home his first goal since Boxing Day to help Chelsea progress to the FA Cup semi-finals

By Matt McGeehan

Antonio Conte praised the character of his Chelsea players and striker Alvaro Morata after yesterday's FA Cup quarter-final win at Leicester.

Striker Morata ended a 13-game run without a goal with his first since Boxing Day in a 2-1 win secured by Pedro's extra-time header. The Blues will face Southampton in next month's semi-final.

Conte's satisfaction was because Chelsea lost 3-0 at Barcelona on Wednesday to exit the Champions League, meaning the FA Cup is their last remaining chance of silverware this season.

And his side responded from conceding to Jamie Vardy 14 minutes from the end of normal time to advance.

"We must be pleased for the character we showed in this game against a really good team," Conte said. "After a game in the Champions League it wasn't easy for us to play 120 minutes.

"We fought a lot against Leicester. We showed great desire, great will.

"For Alvaro it was very important to score. I'm very pleased with his performance.

"He played a very good game, he showed great character. I think this goal will be very important for the future."

Like Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko started. Bakayoko's performance was poor, but Conte insisted he was substituted for Cesc Fabregas at half-time only because he had been booked.

"In a game like this you have to avoid a second yellow," he said.

Willian and Andreas Christensen were replaced in extra-time due to fatigue and Pedro made the most of his chance, converting N'Golo Kante's cross.

Conte said: "It's great for him, great for the team. Pedro is another player who gives everything, whether he starts or comes on. I'm very happy."

Conte refused to look ahead to a second successive FA Cup final at Wembley.

He added: "Every game is difficult, it will be very difficult against Southampton.

"Last season it was a pity to lose the final, (not) to celebrate the double with the players.

"This season our target is to try to reach the final once again. We want to change the final result."

Foxes boss Claude Puel felt aggrieved by the result after his side's performance.

Leicester complained at the end to referee Craig Pawson, apparently upset at perceived time-wasting by Chelsea and the lack of additional time.

Puel said: "It's a big disappointment. We played very well against a good team.

"We deserved a fairer result at the end. It's harsh for my squad because they gave their best."

After extra time

LEICESTER: Schmeichel, Simpson (Diabate, 106 mins), Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Iborra (Silva, 106 mins), Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray, 115 mins), Iheanacho (Okazaki, 68 mins), Vardy. Unused subs: Hamer, Dragovic, Fuchs.

CHELSEA: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Cahill, 101 mins), Rudiger, Moses, Bakayoko (Fabregas, 46 mins), Kante, Alonso, Willian (Pedro, 92 mins), Morata (Giroud, 105 mins), Hazard. Unused subs: Zappacosta, Emerson, Eduardo.

Referee: Craig Pawson

Man of the match: N'Golo Kante

Match rating: 7/10

Man Utd v Tottenham Hotspur Chelsea v Southampton

Ties to be played on April 21/22

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