Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte hailed the courage of his players in their 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona in the first knockout leg of the Champions League. The Premier League champions were unlucky not to win the game, as an Andreas Christensen mistake gifted Lionel Messi the equaliser following good work by Andres Iniesta.
The Blues had hit the post twice through Willian before the Brazilian himself put Chelsea ahead in the 62nd minute of the game at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea would count themselves unlucky not to win the game but would still be content with the performance of his boys in this difficult period for the West London outfit. Barcelona only had two shots on target in the whole of the clash, scoring the second through Messi, who registered his first goal against Chelsea in his 9th match against them.
Speaking after the game, Conte said, “I think we were very close to playing a perfect game, “We made one mistake but against these opponents like (Lionel) Messi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Luis) Suarez, if you make a mistake you pay.” “It’s a pity and we are disappointed with the final result but at the same time I think this game must give us a lot of confidence to trust the second leg. The qualification is open,”
“It won´t be easy but tonight we showed that if we are ready to work very hard together defensively, to continue to have the right feeling when you are with the ball to have the chance to score then we have the chance to do something incredible at the Nou Camp.” He added.
Conte has come under increasing pressure this season, as his team have made a mess of their title defence. A good Champions League will help bring back the feel-good factor back to Stamford Bridge, though it will be hard to get past Barcelona in the reverse fixture. The Spanish giants are favorites to progress to the next round but Chelsea won’t be pushovers. The second leg comes up at Camp Nou on March 14th.