Maurizio Sarri admitted there was good fortune involved in the way Chelsea turned defeat into victory in the final 10 minutes of our game against Cardiff, but highlighted it redressed some of the balance from our previous match, the 2-0 loss at Everton, a 90 minutes that was not without its similarities to this afternoon’s outing.
After a goalless first half, the Blues were behind early in the second half in Wales but pulled it around with Cesar Azpilicueta’s 84th-minute equaliser and then a second header, from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with adding time just beginning…
‘We were lucky,’ admitted Sarri soon after the final whistle,’ because in the first half we didn’t play very well. We conceded a goal similar to the one at Everton but today we were able to react better. We were lucky for the timing, we were lucky for our first goal, but in the end I think we deserved to win.
‘We lost at Everton after the best first half of the season. Today we started very badly but in the end we won, probably with a bit of luck but for sure there was a bit of bad luck at Everton.’
Sarri could understand the anger felt by his opposite number Neil Warnock with some of the decisions in the game, although the Chelsea boss had yet to see any replays of Azpilicueta’s goal with its controversial onside call.
‘Neil told me he was sure it was offside by two yards. He told me about the referee’s decision but I can understand the situation, they are fighting against relegation, today was very important for them and they were winning 10 minutes from the end, so I understand.’
He also spoke about his team selection today and the decision not to start with Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.
‘I cannot think Kante and Hazard can play 70 matches in a season. Kante has played 50 or 51 games, Hazard 48 with today. They played two games for their national teams with Hazard playing 185 minutes and Kante 175 minutes.
‘In every season there is a moment when you have to rest. In the end we were lucky because we gaine three points and Hazard played only 35 minutes and Kante zero minutes. It is important for us to have them in good physical condition for the last seven matches of the Premier League. I know they are very important players but they cannot play 70 matches so sometimes you have decide. It is not easy but you have to choose the right moment.’
Sarri was asked about Chelsea fans at the game voicing their unhappiness during it…
‘I have been on the pitch for the last 45 years so I know very well the reaction of the fans. I understand very well because I was really disappointed for my players because they were fighting. Probably it was better to wait for the end of the game but for me it is not a big problem. In the last period I am getting used to this unfortunately and I have to work to change their opinion.
‘The way to do it is to win matches. Of course we need to improve and play better but sometimes in a season you need to win matches like this.’