Antonio Conte revealed words weren’t necessary after a “massive” win at Everton… just “hugs and emotion” for what they had achieved.
Chelsea took a huge step towards the title with an impressive composed display at Goodison despite coming under tremendous pressure from the vibrant home team.
And their passionate manager – who celebrated animatedly in front of the Chelsea fans at the end as though the title was won – admitted he hugged each of his players in the dressing room afterwards because of what they achieved.
“After the game the message was not words, but only great hugs, to show great enthusiasm and great passion,” he explained.
“Because I think it is also important not just to win but to show great enthusiasm and passion to reach your targets.
“At this moment, it’s very important to stay together and to have great enthusiasm and patience because we must feel this season could go from good to fantastic. That is very important for us.
“With my celebrations, it is part of the season, every win is a great win for us. Now there are four games to go and every win is a great win. For this reason we must celebrate in the right way with my players, the staff the fans.
“But we must go step by step, even if, for sure, it is a great win.”
The London club now just need to win their remaining home games to lift the Premier League trophy, and with relegated Sunderland and lowly Boro and Watford to come, their destiny is firmly in their own hands.
The celebrations at the end, when Conte almost lost control as he punched the air and danced with his players in front of the celebrating Chelsea fans, showed how much this win meant – and just how hard Everton had pressed them.
And skipper Gary Cahill – who added a vital second after Pedro’s match-turning opener on 66 minutes – admitted that the Chelsea players felt they’d taken an important step towards becoming Champions.
“This feels massive – you could see that from the celebrations at the end. We knew this was a massive game, one of the hardest we had, and we’ve done what we needed to do,” he said.
“You can see on my face what this means. It was convincing in the end, but we had to work very hard for it. We felt we needed to go to the next level in the second half. It was a special goal from Pedro. In some games you need a bit of class.”
Everton boss Ronald Koeman insisted he was proud of his side’s performance and lamented the final scoreline which certainly did no justice to the quality of the Blues’ effort for most of the enthralling contest.
But even though Enner Valencia could have had a penalty – and Cesar Azpilicueta could even have been sent off when he pulled the striker back in the box – the Dutchman admitted Chelsea deserved their victory.
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“I don’t know if it’s really a penalty, but if Azpilicueta did not have a yellow (already), the ref would have given him a yellow for what he did,” Koeman said.
“Instead, he gave him a warning about what the player did, and that’s the difference.
“But maybe it’s not good to mention that because that wasn’t the reason why we lost. They showed they were the better team. Comparing their attacking to ours was the difference today.”
Conte revealed that David Luiz had played with an injury which forced him off at the end, but he explained the defender should be ready to face Middlesbrough in the next game.