Bad start but Conte livid with referee

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte rued his side's slow start to Saturday's FA Cup final, and a controversial decision by the referee that set Arsenal on their way to victory, dashing his hopes of a league championship and FA Cup double in his first season in England.

"I think our start for sure wasn't good, wasn't good enough," the Italian told reporters after Arsenal's 2-1 win over the English Premier League champions.

"Honestly... I think that this goal (should have been) disallowed because there is a clear handball."

Arsenal took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when forward Alexis Sanchez seemed to catch the ball with his arm, deflecting it over the Chelsea defence and allowing him to nip in to score, even as a linesman had his flag raised because Aaron Ramsey was standing in an offside position.

Referee Anthony Taylor consulted the linesman before awarding the goal to Arsenal.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said Arsenal deserved to win the match but backed his manager's opinion that the Gunners' first goal should not have stood.

"We are obviously disappointed but I want to say congratulations to Arsenal. They played a good game," the Belgian told BBC Sport.

"But the first goal should never have been allowed - it was clearly a handball and then (Aaron) Ramsey was offside because he was interfering in play."

Conte added that the second-half sending-off of wing-back Victor Moses, after he received a second yellow card from Taylor for diving, was another turning point in the match. The Italian admitted to not knowing whether there had been contact between Moses and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Conte heaped praise on his players for their dominance of the Premier League this season after a miserable 2015-16 campaign when Chelsea finished 10th.

But he made it clear he saw the need to bring in reinforcements over the summer to improve what he called "not a peak squad, but a normal" squad for next season, when they will contest the Champions League.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Bad start but Conte livid with referee'. Print Edition | Subscribe