LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said their 1-0 win over Liverpool on Sunday gave him hope of a top-four Premier league finish that he did not think was possible a month ago.
Olivier Giroud’s first-half header at Stamford Bridge saw Chelsea close the gap on fourth-placed London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to two points and on Liverpool in third to three points, with a game in hand over the Merseysiders.
Chelsea’s inferior goal difference means they need Liverpool to slip up, or Spurs, and if they do, two wins from the Blues last two games at home to Huddersfield Town and at Newcastle United will secure Champions League football for next season.
“I think that we must be pleased,” Conte said. “The players played a really good game. Usually when you have to play a must-win game, it is not easy. It is normal to be a bit nervous.
“Today, it was a must-win game but not against a simple opponent. They have just reached the final of the Champions League.
“I don’t know if this will be enough, but we have to try. Now we have to prepare for Huddersfield - - another tough game.
“One month ago, it was impossible to imagine we could fight for a place in the Champions League. Now there is hope,” he added.
“We are getting three points every game. Our opponents are dropping points, but our vision is not in our hands. We have to try and get three points to apply pressure.”
There was no Alvaro Morata in the Chelsea squad, with Conte saying the Spanish striker picked up an injury before the match though not one that will definitely end his season.
“The injury is not serious,” Conte said. “In my mind he will be in contention for the game against Huddersfield. It is not serious and I hope he recovers. It is difficult to prepare for the match when I have only one striker.
“Probably I will make rotations on Wednesday as today we expended a lot of energy against Liverpool. We showed a great will to fight to show that we were still alive.”
Editing by Ken Ferris