Football

Bittersweet win for Conte, who loses Morata for Everton game

Chelsea reach semis, but Morata will miss tomorrow's EPL match against Everton due to suspension

His second-string side had progressed to the League Cup semi-finals, but it was a bittersweet day for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.

Their hard-fought 2-1 win over Bournemouth in their quarter-final yesterday morning (Singapore time), came at a cost.

Striker Alvaro Morata, who scored the winner in injury-time, less than a minute after Dan Gosling's 90th-minute equaliser for the Cherries, was booked for his celebrations and will miss tomorrow's league match against Everton.

Earlier, the Blues had taken a 13th-minute lead through Willian.

"I must be honest, I didn't see (Morata's) yellow card," Conte said.

"He's a big loss for us, especially because we have to play a tough game against Everton.

"It's a pity. But we have to accept it.

"Tonight, many players were booked… but the most important thing is we are in the semi-finals. Last season, if you remember, we were eliminated in the (fourth) round against West Ham (United).

"This season, we must be happy with this achievement, to reach a semi-final in one of the two cups in England.

"It's great for us, especially because we reached the semi-final with a lot of rotation. I'm very happy because I've had a good response from my players. I hope to continue in this way."

Conte rested key players such as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defenders Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta, wing-back Marcos Alonso, midfielders Tiemoue Bakayoko and N'Golo Kante, and forward Eden Hazard.

The latter three came on as substitutes.

Conte added: "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."

The Italian tactician reserved praise for 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu, who performed well in the centre of defence in just his second start for the Blues.

Ethan, son of former footballer Kwame Ampadu, was booked in just the second minute for a foul on Jermain Defoe.

Conte said the Welsh teenager "could have a great future", adding: "After one minute and 40 seconds, (the ref) decides to book a player who is 17 years old... I think he played the whole game with this problem, and it's not simple for a defender to play after a yellow card in the second minute.

"He showed great maturity and personality. If you remember, I spoke about this player in an enthusiastic way. I said in the past that this player, despite his young age, has shown great maturity.

"Ampadu deserved to play this game and against Everton and against Huddersfield (Town) in the league. Now he has to stay calm.

"Maybe next game, he'll go to play for the youth league. I don't know. But this player is very humble. He could have a great future, but he has to continue in this way, to improve and to work." - WIRE SERVICES

Football