Chelsea ‘paid’ for slow start as ‘two key moments’ decide final – Conte

Antonio Conte lamented “two key moments” that shattered Chelsea’s hopes of a double after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Arsenal at Wembley.
Aaron Ramsey’s 79th-minute header secured the Gunners a record 13th FA Cup triumph. The goal came just three minutes after Diego Costa had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s controversial early opener to give 10-man Chelsea — who saw Victor Moses shown a second yellow card for a dive — hope of a dramatic comeback.
Sanchez appeared to block N’Golo Kante’s attempted clearance with his arms before running onto the loose ball and slotting beyond Thibaut Courtois, while furious Chelsea players also protested that Ramsey had interfered with play by moving towards the ball from an offside position.
After the match, Conte admitted that Arsenal had performed better than his team, but insisted that Sanchez’s goal and Moses’ dismissal decided the game.
“Our start wasn’t good enough,” the Chelsea boss said. “They started the game better than us. Honestly, the goal after three minutes in this way, I think this goal [should have been] disallowed because there was a clear handball.
“But our start wasn’t good for the first 20 or 25 minutes, then we started to play in the second half, we created chances to equalise.
“The second yellow card for Moses was one of the two key moments, but despite this we were able to equalise. Then we conceded after one minute and it was the key moment for our loss. We created another chance with Diego, but Ospina made a fantastic save.
“But to play with 10 men, we were able to equalise, but to concede the second goal was key.
“We won the league, it was right to say thanks and enjoy this win. My players put all themselves in the game, but our start wasn’t good and the approach wasn’t good. Arsenal pushed at the start, I think we paid for it.”
Despite his team’s lacklustre performance in defeat, Conte remained adamant that Chelsea have enjoyed an “incredible” campaign after guiding the Blues to a second Premier League title in three seasons with the most wins and second-highest points tally in competition history.
“Now the most important thing is to give a correct evaluation on our season,” he added. “The season was incredible for us. Every player performed 120 percent or 130 percent every single game.
“To win the league after 30 wins and reach the final of the FA Cup with not a big squad, a normal squad, I think it was incredible.
“My players must remain in the mind our fantastic season and also this final. You have to reach this point to play in the final and it is a pity we didn’t win the FA Cup. Don’t forget we had a great year and we must be proud of this.”
Chelsea will now embark on what is set to be a busy summer, as Conte seeks to bolster his squad in preparation for a return to the Champions League. And while the Italian would not be drawn on which players could be leaving or arriving at Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks, he confirmed that significant reinforcements are essential.
“We didn’t have injuries and it is important to understand this,” he continued. “This season for us was incredible because every single player gave all themselves to the work, they worked very hard and next season we must pay great attention to understand that we have to improve numbers in the squad and quality. It’s very important.
“We must be cold to analyse this situation and understand this season.”

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