Conte backs Giroud after ‘very important’ Chelsea win

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte insisted his side were more dominant than the scoreline suggested in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Willian’s strike and a Martin Kelly own goal in the first half put the Blues in command but they held out during a nervy period of injury time after Patrick van Aanholt pulled a goal back.

The win was Chelsea’s third in their last nine league games and comes after back-to-back defeats at Manchester United and Manchester City, which have put their Champions League qualification in doubt.

“This win was very important,” Conte said.

“If we want to fight for a place in the Champions League, it will be very important to not drop points.

“We played really well, especially in the first half. For a lot of the game, we dominated and created many chances to score.

“It’s a pity that at the end we conceded the goal. You hope to kill the game but the players managed the last few minutes in the best way.”

Conte backed striker Olivier Giroud, whose attempts to break his Premier League duck for the Blues were thwarted by Palace defender James Tomkins in the first half and the woodwork in the second.

“He was a bit unlucky,” Conte said.

“Many players have had chances to score, not only Olivier. We must be pleased for his commitment.

“He hit the post and in the first half a defender cleared a chance.”

Conte also revealed defender Antonio Rudiger missed the game with “muscular fatigue” but will be in contention to face Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 second leg on Wednesday.