Antonio Conte guided his side to a huge win over Manchester City as we bounced straight back from the weekend disappointment to maintain our seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Eden Hazard was the hero on the night, with the Belgian scoring twice in the first half, his goals coming either side of Sergio Aguero’s equaliser for City.
The second half was tense, with the visitors pressing forward for a leveller and passing up some good opportunities, but Conte’s men defended brilliantly from front to back and held on for an important victory.
‘It was a big win for us, it wasn’t easy because when you play against City it’s normal to suffer in some parts of the game, but I think we suffered as a team in the right way,’ Conte explained.
‘The first half was very open with chances at both ends. Normally when this happens I don’t like it because I want more balance. In the second half we defended very well. It was a good win, above all because we played after a bad defeat when we didn’t deserve to lose. At this time of the season the pressure is very high and to drop points is not good because you give your opponent hope.
‘It’s a good win at a time of the season which is very important. To play against City is not easy because they are a top team. They have a great squad with great players and a great coach, the best in the world. When you face that combination it’s very tough.’
Conte explained why he replaced the impressive Kurt Zouma with Nemanja Matic at the break
‘I think Kurt played a really good game but the substitution was tactical because in the first half we were suffering a lot in midfield and they were finding spaces between the lines, so I wanted to reinforce the midfield with Matic, bring Azpi into his position and play Pedro as wing-back.
‘It was more offensive because your wing-back is more of a winger than a defender. In the second half we had more balance and didn’t give them chances to score. We controlled the game well.’
With second-placed Tottenham winning at Swansea tonight, our lead remains at seven points
‘First of all I think it’s better to look at ourselves. The Tottenham result is important but the most important results is ours, we have to continue to think like that. The best way is to think Tottenham can win eight games. To win the title we need 18 points and that’s the best way for us.’
Conte praised Hazard for his decisive contribution
‘He’s an important player and he’s growing in his mentality. He’s having a really good season but for all my players, and for me, we will remember it only if we win. Only winners write history. I have intelligent players and they know the situation.’
In guiding his side to victory, Conte became the first man to complete a league double over a team managed by Guardiola
‘That means Pep is really the best in the world because if he never lost two games in his career (against the same opponent in one season) it means he’s great.’