Conte: Giroud had to start cup final

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said he had no choice but to choose Olivier Giroud ahead of Alvaro Morata for the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Giroud started up front, with matchwinner Eden Hazard playing just behind the Frenchman.

The tactics, which saw an interchangeable midfield three of N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas, drew criticism from United’s manager Jose Mourinho who said his former side relied on long balls and were predictable.

Conte said: “For sure, Alvaro is an important player. But I made an important decision because the only way to win this cup against Manchester United was to play a really strong physical player to hold up the ball and to link with Hazard.”

The ploy worked, with Hazard winning and scoring the penalty that delivered an eighth FA Cup success in the club’s history and a fifth in 12 years.

Conte said dropping Morata was harsh, but he still expects the Spanish striker to be part of his country’s World Cup squad.

“In the past I did this job with the Italy national team but for the World Cup Morata is right to stay in the 23-man squad,” Conte added.

“I am seeing him every day and after this tough season Morata has improved a lot in his first season in England.

“Morata now is in really good form.”