Draw with Terriers jeopardises Blues' top-4 ambitions

Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl makes a survival-sealing save during the 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Wednesday. The Dane tipped Andreas Christensen's (not pictured) header onto the post in the 83rd minute.
Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl makes a survival-sealing save during the 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Wednesday. The Dane tipped Andreas Christensen's (not pictured) header onto the post in the 83rd minute.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Antonio Conte admitted Chelsea had only themselves to blame after their bid to qualify for the Champions League suffered a hammer blow as Huddersfield secured their Premier League survival with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

His side fell behind to Laurent Depoitre's second-half strike. And although Marcos Alonso bagged a fortuitous equaliser, the Blues could not find a winner as they took 22 shots in what could be Conte's final home match.

Fifth-placed Chelsea's attempt to salvage a troubled season by finishing in the top four is now out of their hands heading into the final game of the season at Newcastle on Sunday.

They will need to not only win at St James' Park but hope that fourth-placed Liverpool, who have a superior goal difference of 15, lose at home to Brighton if they are to avoid dropping into the Europa League next season.

"For sure, we had so many chances and you must be good to take them. It is not the first time that we are not clinical," Conte said.

"It is not a situation only for the strikers, but the whole team.

"Every team deserves the points they have in the table. We dropped many points. We are fifth and we must accept this.

"I'm realistic. This situation wasn't in our hands before this game and for sure, the chances are less than before today. We have to try to do our best."

Missing out on the Champions League would be a suitably downbeat conclusion to a lacklustre title defence from Chelsea.

And it could prove the last straw for Blues owner Roman Abramovich as he reportedly plans to part ways with Conte at the end of the season.

The Italian appears set to leave after just two years in charge following a contentious campaign marred by his feud with the Chelsea hierarchy over their failure to back his transfer plans.

The 48-year-old has seen a host of leading managers linked with his job in recent weeks, and added fuel to the fire this week when he said his future would be revealed after the FA Cup final against Manchester United on May 19.

Conte's precarious position is in stark contrast to opposite number David Wagner, whose tenacious tactics enabled Huddersfield to secure the point they needed to reach safety, and extend their stay in the top flight for another season.

"If you have the passion, desire and spirit, you can compete with top quality," Wagner said.

"We have done it. I am so unbelievably proud. We did it on our own. We didn't rely on anybody else. We did it with our result... it's just unbelievable.

"Today was a stolen point but, to be perfectly honest, I don't care. It feels like another trophy."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'Draw with Terriers jeopardises Blues' top-4 ambitions'. Print Edition | Subscribe