Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hazard salutes Conte after Chelsea star seals Wembley thriller

Eden Hazard hailed Antonio Conte ’s tactical masterstroke as the Chelsea star came off the bench to clinch a thrilling 4 - 2 victory against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi - finals.

Hazard and Diego Costa were surprisingly left on the bench at the start of Saturday’s clash at Wembley as Blues boss Conte prioritised the Premier League leaders ’ vital fixture against Southampton on Tuesday .

But the bold gamble paid off in spectacular fashion as Hazard ’s replacement Willian scored twice before the Belgian playmaker was sent on in the second half .

Hazard repaid his manager ’ s faith with a superb strike to put Chelsea ahead before Nemanja Matic ’s stunning long - range effort put Chelsea in the FA Cup final for the first time since they last won the competition in 2012 .

“When you play football you want to play every game , but the manager did a great choice . He put in Willian and he scored two goals,” Hazard said.
“It’ s always good to win this kind of game , a semi against a London team , so for the fans it’s good.
“It’ s my first final in five years at Chelsea so it’s good. ”

Matic’ s blistering strike was the highlight goal of a memorable occasion , but the Serbian midfielder said it wasn ’t the finest of his career .

“I am happy for my goal, it was a great goal, but it’ s not the best I’ ve ever scored ,” he said.

“I scored a harder one in a Benfica v Porto derby. This is perhaps my second best ever.

“To have a chance to win this trophy is significant for us as players .

“This result gives us more confidence of course, it’ s always good to win . Now we have to recover quickly for the next game on Tuesday. ”

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