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Conte calls for VAR after disallowed Morata equalizer consigns Chelsea to disappointing loss

The Chelsea head coach was disconsolate after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford

In the 86th minute of Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United on Sunday, Cesc Fàbregas chipped a lovely ball to Álvaro Morata, who neatly tucked it inside David De Gea’s far post.

And then the offside flag went up. Video replays show that Morata was onside and had broken his scoreless streak.

In the tunnel afterwards, when the interviewer suggested as much, Antonio Conte confessed he couldn’t tell from his position on the sideline. But...

“I must be honest I haven’t seen the situation but if you tell me Morata wasn’t offside, I think VAR is especially important here in England because in game there are many times when you need a super check.”

-Antonio Conte

He revisited his enthusiasm for Video Assistant Referee in the full post-match press conference.

Be that as it may, this was a game that Chelsea had within reach, having the better of play in the first half and taking a 1-0 lead before giving up an unfortunate equalizer a few minutes later (match should’ve been stopped for Christensen’s head injury). The second half saw Manchester United assert themselves and score the inevitable winning goal, as Mourinho’s team slowly and methodically ground down a tiring Blues side. Conte, ever the emotional one, was downcast about his team’s performance.

It’s a loss that throws Chelsea into another crisis, fresh from the last one. Out of the top four by two points behind Tottenham and with another brutal trip to Manchester next Sunday, Conte repeated the obvious: we could yet miss out on the Champions League, for the second season out of the last three. It’s a possibility that he’s acknowledged at the start of both of his seasons at Chelsea, just as most others have (with six teams vying for four spots, two will end the season very unhappy).

So for now Chelsea are on the outside looking in. There are ten games remaining. There is a good possibility Chelsea will be five points off fourth place after next weekend. Conte left the press conference with his familiar refrain, work and fight.

It’s not as if next Sunday’s trip to the Etihad was ever going to be unimportant. But with this loss, it’s taken on even more significance. We can only hope that when Conte holds his next post-match presser, he’ll cut a much happier figure than he did today.

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