Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says he has no doubts he made the correct decision in dropping Gary Cahill despite Andreas Christensen’s mistake in the 1-1 draw against Barcelona.
The 21-year-old centre-back has forced his way into the team this season with a host of impressive displays.
The Dane, and Antonio Rudiger, were preferred to club captain Cahill for the last-16 Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge.
It was a sloppy Christensen pass that led to Lionel Messi equalising, but Conte had no regrets about selecting the defender for this 33rd Blues appearance this season
“His performance was a great performance, an incredible performance,” Conte said. “He is only 21 years old. It is great he can play this game with this maturity.
“He was one of the best players tonight. He played a top game.
“We paid for one mistake but against this opponent, and players like Messi, Iniesta and Suarez, if you make a mistake you pay.”
Conte said Chelsea’s impressive response to a tricky opening spell where Barca dominated possession was the reason he did not make changes until late in the game.
“Without the mistake, Barcelona were in great difficulty to find and create a chance to score,” Conte added. “I saw at 1-0 the possibility of us to try and exploit the situation in the best way to score a second.
“We were unlucky because we hit the post twice. We gave 120% in this game, so we must be disappointed with the result.
“Our three strikers [Hazard, Willian and Pedro] played a fantastic game. Willian played really well against Hull and scored twice.
“In the last three games, we scored eight times, with seven goals scored with Pedro, Willian and Hazard. They worked very well.”