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Chelsea reach Carabao Cup final: ‘I don’t care’ – Hazard on Sarri criticism
January 25, 2019 - Written by editor
Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard’s goal was his first since scoring twice against Watford in December, ending a run of six games without a goal

Eden Hazard said he “does not care” about criticism from boss Maurizio Sarri after helping Chelsea beat Spurs to reach the Carabao Cup final.

The Belgium forward put the Blues 2-1 up on aggregate as they overturned a first-leg deficit, although they needed penalties to beat Spurs following Fernando Llorente’s goal.

Sarri said Hazard “has to do more” earlier in the week.

After the game, Hazard said: “It doesn’t matter what the manager said.”

Chelsea will play Manchester City in the Wembley final on Sunday, 24 February. Spurs had won the first leg 1-0 at home but N’Golo Kante and Hazard goals put Chelsea ahead overall before Llorente’s header forced a shootout, which the Blues won 4-2.

In the build-up to the game, Sarri had also said: “I prefer him [Hazard] when he speaks with his feet.

“The potential is higher than the performances, I think. He has to respect, first of all, himself.”

When Hazard was asked about Sarri’s comments, he told Sky Sports: “I don’t care. I just play my football. I just want to do my best for this team.”

Sarri is the fourth Chelsea manager to reach the League Cup final in his first season in charge.

After last weekend’s 2-0 defeat by Arsenal, Italian Sarri said he was “angry” and his players “lacked determination”.

But after the win over Spurs, he said: “I didn’t attack my players. I said only that we had a problem. The problem was the motivation. We reacted very well in this match. Now we have to show continuity.

“Hazard was very good, especially for 60-65 minutes. Wonderful.

“I was very happy with the performance of the team. We reacted very well. The players had a very good level of determination so I was very happy with the level of performance. I think that in 180 minutes in the two matches we deserved to go to the final.”

Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri
Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri have both built up good reputations without winning any silverware

Neither Sarri, nor Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, have ever won a major trophy in their managerial career.

Sarri, 60, managed 17 Italian teams – mostly smaller clubs – before an impressive, albeit trophy-less, three seasons with Napoli.

“If you say that I have never won anything at this level you are right, but now I’m in Chelsea, so in another way I won,” said Sarri.

“We will try but it’s really very difficult against Manchester City. In my opinion City are the best team in Europe so it will be very difficult.”

The Blues have won 15 major trophies in the 16 years since Roman Abramovich took over as owner.

Final is going to be a special one – Townsend

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Andy Townsend, a former Chelsea midfielder, said: “It’ll be a massive day for Maurizio Sarri. If he does leave Wembley with a trophy on 24 February they’re going to have to earn it because they’re playing against Manchester City.

“It’ll be a really interesting game because Chelsea have had success against City here so they know how to beat them, which is important when you play a team with that sort of quality.

“That final is going to be a special one. And it could be a big moment for Sarri, to get a trophy in his pocket, it’s significant.”

The ex-Republic of Ireland player thinks the absence of the Spurs trio of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli was telling.

“If Chelsea had turned up without Hazard, Pedro and Willian, it’s a completely different scenario, and that’s the way it was with Spurs,” he said.

“People will say they keep coming up short when it matters but I think they’ve a justifiable reason tonight. They’ve a decent excuse in terms of that.”

Watching Higuain ‘will have been happy’

Chelsea have signed Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain on loan, two and a half years after the Turin club paid £75m to sign him from Sarri’s Napoli. The Argentina forward watched the game, having not signed in time to feature, although he is eligible for the final.

And Sarri thinks he will enjoy what he watched as the Blues created a host of chances.

“Gonzalo Higuain was lucky because if he saw us in the last match [where they struggled against Arsenal] he would be a little bit worried I think!” Sarri said. “But we are able to play a lot. In the last three or four matches we were not able to be dangerous. Tonight was better.”

Argentine Pochettino, 46, has previously managed Espanyol and Southampton – and his wait for a trophy will go on.

“I’d prefer to lose on penalties [than in the game],” he said. “We’ll keep going in the FA Cup game against Crystal Palace at the weekend.

“In the second half we played so well and dominated and had chances. Over 180 minutes it was 2-2.

“The team was so good. I feel so proud. I’m so happy with the performance and the way we fought. After two amazing games I praise my players.”

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