Conte slams Chelsea players for allowing United comeback

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte slated his players for surrendering a lead at top-four rivals Manchester United and warned his side that their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is at risk.

Substitute Jesse Lingard was the United match-winner with a quarter of an hour remaining after striker Romelu Lukaku registered a quick-fire leveller against his former club following Willian’s opener for the Blues.

Victory returned United to second place in the Premier League, demoting Liverpool to third, while Chelsea slipped to fifth following their defeat and Tottenham’s win at London rivals Crystal Palace.

“We have to be disappointed with the final result,” said Conte. “I think we had a good chance to get three points against a competitor for a place in the Champions League, but at the end we are talking about another defeat.

“In these type of situations [when you take the lead], you have to manage the game better and you must be able, with experience, with maturity to get three points.

“I don’t know if we will finish in the top four, but this [missing out] could be a possibility for sure. In this league to find a place in the Champions League is not simple, it is not easy.

“In this country there is the only championship that you can find six teams that start to fight to win the title and for a place in the Champions League. This is the only country to have this competition and there is the risk we will stay out of the Champions League.”

United manager Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, moved to draw a line under his bitter feud with Conte after the pair shared a pre and post-match handshake.

“The handshake doesn’t need any words,” said the former Chelsea tactician. “I think that is what me and Antonio want to show everyone. The handshake before and after the match is an example that you have to respect each other.

“Mourinho and Conte, they are not two ordinary persons in football. We have a history, we have an image and I’m really happy with that.”

Chelsea had already struck United’s crossbar through Alvaro Morata by the time the visitors opened the scoring shortly after the half hour mark as Willian exchanged passes with Eden Hazard and rifled a shot through David de Gea.

United levelled on 39 minutes as Alexis Sanchez and Antony Marital combined and Lukaku side-footed home, while the ex-Chelsea frontman later turned provider for Lingard to head beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Original Article

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