Conte: Strong decisions were needed

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said leaving Diego Costa and Eden Hazard on the bench for the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham was a risk he had to take with a Premier League match against Southampton to come on Tuesday.

The Blues twice at Wembley led only for Spurs to level on both occasions.

But with Tottenham on top, he brought on both players for the final 30 minutes and Chelsea went on to win 4-2, with Hazard scoring the third goal.

“You must take strong decisions and take the responsibility to take these decisions,” Conte said.

“It is not easy to decide to start the game without two really important players.

“I think you must take the responsibility and must involve your players in your plan and then take the risks to hope the decision is good.”

Costa provided a physical presence that Chelsea lacked during Michy Batshuayi’s time on the pitch, the Belgian striker struggling to make an impact on what was just his sixth start of the season.

But Costa’s introduction alongside Hazard brought a much-needed spark and Conte was delighted with his team’s performance.

He said: “To reach a final in my first season is a great achievement, not only for me but for my players and the club and staff and the supporters.

“We deserved this after a very tough game against a very strong team.

“To see this type of game I think England must be proud to have this type of football, with the intensity and at this level. It was great sport.

“In the semi-final I saw two very strong teams and a really good game.”