Speaking after Chelsea’s exit from this season’s Champions League, Antonio Conte paid tribute to Barcelona’s star player, praised his own team’s commitment and thought we had some bad luck over the two legs.
Lionel Messi scored twice in the 3-0 defeat at Camp Nou, the tie ending 4-1 on aggregate. Chelsea hit the woodwork twice in the second leg and had other opportunities, and our manager was asked if he thought the margin of defeat was an accurate reflection of the play…
‘Our start was terrible, to concede after only two minutes,’ admitted Conte, ‘but after we tried to play football and at times we dominated the game and had chances to score. Over the two legs we have hit the post four times and this is very strange. I think a fantastic player moved the final result and the qualification because in these two legs, Lionel Messi moved the final result. He scored three goals and made an assist for Dembele.
‘It is a pity but I must be very proud of the commitment of my players. They gave everything and we have to continue in this way, with this will to fight and desire to fight together.’
CONTE SPOKE TO MESSI ON THE PITCH AT THE END…
‘When you have the opportunity to make a great complement to Messi, it is right to recognise a super, super, super top player,’ he explained. ‘You are talking about a player who every season can score 60 goals, not just in one season. I am very pleased to have the opportunity at the end of the game to give him my complement. We are talking about an extraordinary player, the best in the world.’
FOR THIS GAME, CONTE MADE ONE CHANGE FROM THE FIRST LEG, WITH OLIVIER GIROUD SELECTED AT CENTRE-FORWARD…
‘For sure when you take this decision to play with Eden, Willian and a striker as a point of reference, you must be very good to have a great balance and not lose this balance. I saw great commitment from all the players, who wanted to play with all our potential. We were a bit unlucky over the two legs and we showed we can play in both ways. For sure in the first leg, defensively we were more compact. Tonight they scored three times but I think we did not deserve this type of result.
‘I think there was a penalty for Alonso and if it is 2-1 you can put a bit of pressure on Barcelona and I repeat, in the end I must be pleased with the commitment of my players. I saw great work.’
ALSO AT THE MEDIA CONFERENCE, A CHELSEA SPOKESMAN COMMENTED ON SOME PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED BY OUR SUPPORTERS ACCESSING THE STADIUM ON NIGHT.
He said: ‘We are aware of reports of incidents outside the ground before the game where a number of Chelsea fans were hurt. We ask that our supporters contact us with accounts of their experiences of this evening’s arrival at the stadium so that we can take this up properly with the authorities.’