Antonio Conte has spoken of his fears that Eden Hazard would have been seriously injured during Chelsea’s bad-tempered 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
It seemed the Spain midfielder was carrying out an apparent edict from United boss Jose Mourinho to target the Belgium midfielder.
Conte called for Hazard to receive protection from officials. It is a call Mourinho has made previously, when he was Chelsea manager.
“For Hazard, (for) 20, 25 minutes it was impossible to play football, because he received only kicks,” Conte said.
“A tactic to play and go to kick an opponent? It’s not football for me.
“I don’t think that I’m crazy and I see only him in this situation.
“Sometimes when you play against players with great talent, you try to intimidate those players.
“The referee must protect these type of players. When they go out with a bad injury…
“It’s very dangerous to receive a kick from the back.”
Conte did not see the incident which saw United defender Marcos Rojo apparently tread on Hazard’s back as the Chelsea forward was falling to the turf. Rojo could face retrospective action from the Football Association.
Conte on Mourinho spat
Conte and Mourinho had to be separated by fourth official Mike Jones as the Italian took exception to United’s heavy challenges.
“What happened on the outside for me is only (a) circus,” Conte added.
“The coaches are not important.”
Conte did praise the fourth official, saying: “He was very good to manage this situation, but for sure it’s normal when you play this type of game.”
Conte on Tottenham FA Cup semi-final
Chelsea advanced to the semi-final, a London derby with Tottenham at Wembley.
Chelsea beat Tottenham in December, but Spurs ended their 13-match Premier League winning streak at White Hart Lane on January 4.
“We start with one win for us and one win for them,” Conte said.
“For sure it’ll be an interesting game, very strong for both teams.”