Eden Hazard fired Chelsea into the FA Cup final as the Belgian's blistering strike ensured Antonio Conte's selection gamble paid off in his side's dramatic 4-2 win over Tottenham on Saturday. The former has already stated that he will leave Goodison Park at the end of the season and Conte may have to part with around £80M to bring the Belgian worldwide back to Stamford Bridge.
Conte, though, angrily dismissed claims from Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas that Belgium playmaker Eden Hazard needed to be more selfish. "I work with him in the same way, if you are in the starting XI or on the bench". "It's not easy to decide to start the game without two important players, Hazard and Diego, but I think you must take this responsibility and you must involve your players in your plan and then take this risk".
"I think we must be proud", he said.
Keeping the team as a tight-knit unit has had its benefits with the Blues top of the table and through to the final of the FA Cup, but for Conte ensuring that when players are in the right condition for when they are needed to come into the side has been key.
Nemanja Matic's rocket sealed it but it was Conte's clever use of his squad - a key factor throughout his first season in charge - that proved telling in a gripping game. "He told me and Diego [on Friday] because Tuesday we play this kind of important match [against Southampton]", the Belgium global said. We don't know if this was his only motivation, but did seem to score an very bad lot against Tottenham - including this magnificent free kick in the FA Cup semi final when Chelsea thumped them 5-1.
"We have to be focused and now have two days to recover because we have a very tough game and we know that Tottenham want to fight all the way to the end for the title".
Spurs hoped to gain a psychological boost at Wembley by continuing the Blues' recent dip in form while extending their own excellent run of seven victories on the bounce. Nathan Ake replaced Cahill against Spurs and could continue.
"What a pleasure to play with the greatest defender in the Premier League history". The right-wing cross with his left foot and the beauty of a pass to Dele Alli helped them bring the game to level twice in the first 50 minutes. "It's a great achievement", the Chelsea boss added.