Antonio Conte blasted Chelsea’s lack of hunger after becoming the first English club to lose in the Champions League this season with a ruthless 3-0 rout by AS Roma.
Conte lamented that the English champions – who would have advanced to the last 16 with a win – “lacked everything” after a match where they went a goal down after 38 seconds, the first of a Stephan El Shaarawy double.
El Shaarawy made it 2-0 after 36 minutes when ex-Roma defender Antonio Rudiger failed to control Radja Nainggolan’s long ball forward. Argentine Diego Perotti scored the third midway through the second half, before missing a chance for a fourth.
“Roma proved to have more hunger, more desire, more will to fight and to beat us. We lacked everything,” complained Conte.
“If we think because our name is Chelsea the opponent is fearful, this is not the right way. We must have a great desire in every game.”
The former Italy and Juventus boss took over Chelsea in 2016, winning the Premier League title in his first season. But this campaign they are trailing nine points behind leaders Manchester City.
“What I am most disappointed about is the performance in the second half. I believe in the first half we played well,” he continued.
“We then created many chances but we weren’t clinical or ruthless enough to convert them.
“There is great disappointment for our second half, because I didn’t see positive things, it was really bad for a team like us.”
Chelsea can still qualify from Group C as Atletico Madrid were held 1-1 by Qarabag in Madrid.
Conte’s side are four points above third-placed Atletico and can go through with a win in their next game in Azerbaijan on November 22.
“We must find the hunger we showed all of last season, and sometimes this season. But this season has been up and down. We need to find consistency,” added the Italian, who had expressed his optimism before Tuesday’s game as players were starting to return from injury.
Thibaut Courtois says Sunday’s game against Manchester United provides us with the perfect opportunity to bounce back from last night’s Champions League defeat in Rome.
The Blues went down 3-0 against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, with Stephan El Shaarawy scoring two first-half goals, before Diego Perotti extended the home side’s lead after the break.
The first of El Shaarawy’s two goals, a half-volley from outside the box, arrived inside the opening minute, and it was a defensive mix-up which allowed him to steal in and score his – and Roma’s – second.
‘I’m not sure how he [El Shaarawy] scores that screamer but after 50 seconds you are a goal down,’ said Courtois.
‘I shouted ‘away’ for the second goal but there was a lot of noise in the stadium and Cesar Azpilicueta let the ball go.
‘I thought we played well in the first half but in the second half we seemed to drop our fighting spirit and I don’t know what happened.’
Last night’s result brought an end to our three-game winning sequence, with the Blues currently struggling to find the required levels of consistency within our game.
The team have been conceding more goals than usual of late, and Courtois believes that is one area which needs to be improved, starting on Sunday against Manchester United.
‘It is hard to say what the problem is,’ he said. ‘This season every game is a hard game. We have to find that balance again and rediscover that mentality of not conceding goals and keeping clean sheets.
‘Sometimes last season I had nothing to do in a game, sometimes I’d have one save to make. We have to react on Sunday as this was a bad image of ourselves.
‘We have to fight back against Manchester United.’