Thibaut Courtois has questioned Antonio Conte’s decision to replace Eden Hazard in the second-half of Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.
The Premier League clash was finely poised after goals from Willian and Romelu Lukaku inside the opening 39 minutes, with both sides searching for an all-important winner at OId Trafford.
Willian has been Chelsea’s standout attacking player in recent weeks and the Brazilian remained on the pitch as Conte hauled Hazard off for Pedro in the 73rd minute. Conte insisted Hazard’s substitution was purely for tactical reasons in his post-match press conference but Courtois has hit out at the Italian’s decision.
‘I have no explanation for the substitution of Hazard,’ Chelsea’s goalkeeper told Belgian outlet Play Sports. ‘I had not expected him to take him off but it is a choice of the manager. He must explain. I can’t look into his head. ‘Players like Eden should have 90 minutes on the pitch. He can always bring something extra offensive.’
Courtois insisted that Chelsea should have won the match despite having less possession than United in the second-half. ‘After our goal, we conceded a counter-attacking goal just like last Tuesday but in the second half we had less of the ball,’ he added. ‘But even then we should never have lost this match.
‘If you do not do the small things well in top matches, you lose, which is what happened.’ Antonio Conte defended his decision to replace Eden Hazard with Pedro (Picture: Getty) Conte stressed that substituting Hazard in the second-half was a ‘tactical decision’ following Chelsea’s defeat. ‘It was a tactical decision,’
Conte explained when asked if Hazard was injured. ‘We have to keep the same performance for 90 minutes. Otherwise we don’t have a great balance.
‘Every single player has to work with the ball, without the ball, otherwise we lose our balance and the game. ‘I think he finished his energy. In the first half he ran a lot. In the second half he started the same way but when I see a player is a bit tired, my task is to find a different solution.’