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Reaction: Character and quality

Cesar Azpilicueta and Thibaut Courtois, two players who made big contributions in yesterday’s win over Manchester United, felt the key to our success was the whole team working together in order to overcome a tough opponent.

It was the perfect way to bounce back from the Champions League defeat to Roma, with Antonio Conte’s side producing an impressive performance in which we always looked a threat going forward, while limiting United to few clear-cut opportunities and keeping a second consecutive Premier League clean sheet.

Azpilicueta was the man who provided the cross from which Alvaro Morata headed home the only goal of the game, and the defender was delighted with the overall attitude of the team.

‘We were all looking forward to playing the game and the team came back in a very strong way,’ he said.

‘Obviously after such a disappointment last Tuesday we wanted to show our team spirit and we did it, we came back to winning ways in a very good game.

‘We could have scored more goals and everybody made a huge effort, it’s what we needed.’

After thwarting his compatriot Romelu Lukaku in the first half, Courtois made a brilliant late save [above] to deny another of his Belgium team-mates, Marouane Fellaini, right at the death as Man United chased an equaliser.

‘It was a game in which, as a team, we were better and we had the better chances, but in the last minute they could have maybe drawn, so it was a very important save,’ said the Chelsea goalkeeper.

‘Obviously the three points was the most important thing, but to do it in the way we did was pleasing. We showed great character, a great mentality, we defended as a team and we stopped a lot of dangerous situations.

‘In the end they were playing with four or five strikers, big men, and we responded to that well. In Rome we let it go a bit, which you can’t do at the top level, but if we show this mentality in all of our games then we will have a great season.’

The victory moved us to within one point of Man United, and despite the fact we remain nine points behind leaders Manchester City, Courtois highlighted the way in which we overhauled Pep Guardiola’s side last season as a reason to believe we are still very much in the title race.

‘Last year, at one stage we were eight points behind and we went on a winning run, so I hope we can do the same,’ he said.

‘You have to hope they drop points. At the moment they look unstoppable, they are playing well and scoring a lot of goals, but you never know.

‘A season is very long and they might start playing a bit worse and losing some games, so we have to be there and keep winning our games. Hopefully we can fight for the title until the end of the season.’
 

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