Sunday, April 23 2017

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Conte hails ’big step’ towards title

Update: April, 06/2017 - 12:00
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (right) scores the first goal during the English Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London, Britain, on Wednesday. — EPA/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

LONDON — Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said his side had taken a "big step" towards the Premier League title after their 2-1 defeat of Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Eden Hazard scored twice in the first half, sandwiching an equaliser by Sergio Aguero, as Chelsea returned to winning ways following Saturday’s shock 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace.

It left Conte’s side seven points clear of second-place Tottenham Hotspur with eight games of the season remaining.

"(It was) another step — a big step — against a great team. They have a lot of qualities," Conte told BT Sport.

"I think we showed to be a great team, to win a difficult game after a defeat against Crystal Palace.

"It wasn’t easy to reply very well in this way. I’m satisfied for this, but we have to continue this way.

"We must think that Tottenham could win all their games. We need 18 points to win the title. I think we are playing a great season, but to win the title there is a long way to go."

Defeat left City 14 points below Chelsea in fourth place and beaten manager Pep Guardiola said his side’s title hopes were now over.

"The Premier League is gone now. It will be between Tottenham and Chelsea," he said.

"So now we want to (get in) the Champions League places."

City occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot and are four points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United, but both teams have a game in hand on them.

Guardiola has been beaten six times in a league season for the first time in his managerial career, but he said he was proud of his players.

"It’s an honour to have the amazing players I have," said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

"We come here to Stamford Bridge and play the way we have, with huge personality. I’m a lucky guy to manage these guys.

"It’s encouraging for the future. I’m optimistic. It’s been like this all season, but in the boxes we are not good enough." — AFP

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