Antonio Conte proud of fringe players as Chelsea beat Bournemouth
Last Updated: 20/12/17 11:02pm
Antonio Conte was proud of his fringe players as his Chelsea side battled past Bournemouth and into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
The Blues boss made eight changes to his side for the match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, although it took a 91st-minute goal from substitute Alvaro Morata to seal a 2-1 win and see them through into the last four, where they'll play Arsenal.
"The most important thing is we're in the semi-finals," said Conte, who had seen his side take the lead through Willian before they were pegged back by Dan Gosling in the 90th minute. "Last season we lost to West Ham in the second round so we must be happy with this achievement.
"To reach the semi-final in one of the two cups in England is great for us, especially with a lot [of squad] rotation. I had good responses from my players and I hope to continue in this way. Many players had their chances tonight to play from the start and I think I had good responses.
"It's also not simple when you concede a goal in the last minute of the game, so to have this type of reaction shows great character, personality and heart."
Conte also reserved particular praise for 17-year-old defender Ethan Ampadu, who overcame a tough start which saw him booked for a bad challenge on Jermain Defoe to turn in an impressive display.
"[He was booked] after one minute and 40 seconds so to play the whole of the game with this problem, at 17-years-old, isn't simple for a defender," said Conte. "You have to play over 90 minutes with this danger, but I think he showed great maturity and personality.
"I have spoken about him in the past in an enthusiastic way. I don't like giving gifts, if you deserve it then I'm ready to play with players who are very young. He deserved to play this game and the games he's played before.
"Now he has to stay calm and maybe in the next game he goes back to play with the youth team. But he's very humble and he could have a great future."
Super 6 £1m jackpot
Simply predict six correct scores to win Jeff's £1 million. Enter your selections for free here.