Chelsea manager Antonio Conte praised his side for their mental strength in a 2-1 win over Leicester City in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final.
Alvaro Morata’s opener on the stroke of half-time was cancelled out by Jamie Vardy in the 76th minute, but Pedro’s extra-time header sealed the Blues’ place in the semi-finals, where they will face Southampton.
The West Londoners had been unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League in a 3-0 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou on Wednesday, but the Italian manager was delighted with their response.
“We must be pleased with the character we showed in this game against a really good team with great talent,” Conte said, according to Chelsea’s website.
“After a Champions League game, it wasn’t easy for us to play 120 minutes in this way, and in this weather. We fought a lot and we showed great desire and will to fight, and will to reach the semi-final for the second time in a row.”
Conte hailed struggling striker Morata’s contribution, not just in terms of productivity in front of goal, but also effort.
“For a striker, it’s very important to score. At the same time, I am very pleased with his overall performance. He played a good game and showed great character and strength. This goal will be very important for the future,” he said.
The former Juventus boss also paid tribute to supersub Pedro, who came on and changed the game, gushing: “He scored a header here last season too! It’s great for him and the team. Pedro is another player who is putting everything in at every moment if he starts or comes on. I am very happy for him.”
In conclusion, Conte thanked the Chelsea fans for their support and warned against any complacency after the Blues avoided Manchester United and Tottenham in the semi-final draw.
“When you arrive at this point of the tournament, it’s very difficult to consider an easy game. Don’t forget Man City were eliminated against Wigan. We must be ready to fight to try to reach the final at Wembley for the second time in a row. It will be very important for us, but we must know Southampton will have the same idea.
“We want to give the best satisfaction to our fans, who pushed us a lot today. I want to say thanks to them.”