Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that Arsenal “surprised” his side with their fast start during this afternoon’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
The Gunners went into the match as underdogs against the newly-crowned Premier League champions, but it took them less than five minutes to take the lead through Alexis Sanchez – albeit in controversial fashion due to questions over a handball and offside.
Chelsea were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Victor Moses was shown a second yellow card for diving and, despite still managing to equalise with their numerical disadvantage, Conte believes that the sending-off was “decisive” on their way to a 2-1 defeat.
“I think the first goal was very strange. The first half we didn’t start well, we didn’t have the right approach and we suffered in first 25 minutes. We started to play better in the second half and the red card was decisive. I didn’t see the incident on the TV and it was difficult to understand,” the Italian told reporters.
“I don’t know if my players had time to recover [from the first goal]. There is a clear handball and I don’t understand why the referee didn’t decide to blow his whistle. It can happen. The players make a mistake and the referee makes a mistake.
“I saw a lot of these decisions against us this season – [Manchester] United, Bournemouth – this is the same. I think we were unlucky.”
“The first goal, the player had his hands attached to the ball with two hands. Offside or not is not important. Arsenal started very well with great determination. They surprised us a bit but I repeat our first 25 minutes weren’t good. At our best moment, the referee decided to give the red card.
“There is disappointment for the final result but it can happen and there was a lot of pressure. Victor Moses has been good and played an important season. Our season was incredible to win the league in this way, it was great but now its important to look forward and to restart.”
Conte was bidding to become the first manager since compatriot Carlo Ancelotti to win the double in his debut season in English football.