Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Batshuayi delivers crown for Chelsea

MORE IN STORE?After securing a sixth Premier League title, their second in three seasons, Antonio Conte’s side are to face Arsenal on May 27 in a battle for the FA Cup


Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, top, is thrown in the air by his teammates in celebration of their victory over West Bromwich Albion, which secured them the Premier League title, at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, England, on Friday.

Photo: AP

Substitute Michy Batshuayi’s dramatic 82nd-minute winner on Friday gave Chelsea the Premier League title following a hard-earned 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.

The Belgian striker’s late goal at The Hawthorns took Antonio Conte’s side 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have only nine points left to play for.

It is Chelsea’s second title in three seasons, their sixth in total, and comes at the end of former Juventus and Italy coach Conte’s first season as manager.

“This is a great achievement for the players,” Conte told Sky Sports in a pitch-side interview after breaking away from his players’ jubilant celebrations. “I thank them for their commitment and work rate. They showed me a great attitude to try to do something great this season. After this win we must be happy, we must be pleased.”

“It wasn’t easy for me to arrive in England and try different habits, a different language and inherit players after a bad season,” he added.

A video posted on Chelsea’s official Twitter account showed reserve goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tipping an ice bucket over Conte as he entered the team’s changing room while Diego Costa sprayed him with champagne.

Batshuayi, understudy to Costa, had only been on the pitch for seven minutes when he scored the winning goal — his first in the league since August last year.

“It’s good. It’s the best day for Chelsea today,” said Batshuayi, who arrived from Olympique de Marseille last year in a £33.2 million (US$42.8 million at the current exchange rate) transfer. “Everybody is happy. It’s great to take the trophy.”

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas said: “I thought it was going to be one of those days. We had so many chances in the first half and then we got a bit nervous.”

“The beauty of football: A player who didn’t play a lot scores the winning goal for the championship,” he added.

Conte, who claimed three Serie A titles as Juventus coach, has restored Chelsea to the winners’ circle by rebuilding from the chaotic end of Jose Mourinho’s second reign.

Two years after Mourinho led Chelsea to the title, Conte has stitched the London club back together after dressing room unity unraveled under Mourinho during a horrendous title defense last season.

The Italian’s side finally broke through West Brom’s stubborn resistance with eight minutes left and will now chase the double when they face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on May 27.

Chelsea were almost stunned inside 30 seconds as West Brom created the game’s first chance.

Darren Fletcher’s lofted pass found Salomon Rondon and his flicked header drew a smart save from Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea quickly began applying pressure, but West Brom had a huge chance on the counterattack when James McClean seized on a loose pass and raced 50 yards into Chelsea territory.

However, his attempted pass to Rondon was poor and the Venezuelan was crowded out by Chelsea defenders.

Chelsea were becoming frustrated in their efforts to breach the Baggies’ defense, but Fabregas nearly broke through with a snap shot that flashed half a yard wide of the far post.

Chelsea might have broken the deadlock just two minutes into the second half, when a powerful shot from Victor Moses was turned around the post superbly by West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Yet, there was almost a shock for Chelsea when Rondon escaped a challenge from David Luiz and raced clear, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to make a vital, saving challenge.

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