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20th Feb 2018

Antonio Conte defends Andreas Christensen after error against Barcelona

Conte praised his performance despite the mistake

Reuben Pinder

His stray pass led to Barcelona’s equaliser

Ever since he took David Luiz’s place in the middle of Chelsea’s back three, Andrea Christensen has shown why he belongs at Chelsea and not out on loan. For a 21-year-old, he plays with a maturity beyond his years; you suspect that if he had a whopping transfer fee to his name he would receive a lot more attention, such is the case with John Stones.

But tonight he was not at his best. Under no pressure, he played a stray pass early on to César Azpilicueta which was so wayward it wet out for a corner. Despite his sub-par performance, Chelsea contained Barça well for most of the game, playing with a high intensity, pressing effectively and keeping a solid defensive shape.

That was until Christensen committed the cardinal sin of passing the ball across your own penalty area. With Andrés Iniesta, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi lurking, it was inadvisable to say the least. It was just out of Cesc Fàbregas’ reach and Azpilicueta could not control it either.

Fantastic anticipation from Iniesta allowed him to take the ball in his stride and immediately find Lionel Messi who made no mistake in finding the net.

It would be easy to blame Christensen for the goal, and while he should not have played the pass, other players were also at fault for the goal. Antonio Conte defended the Danish centre-back, saying he played well in spite of the mistake.

“He’s only 21, and was one of the best players tonight. A top game.”

“We were very close to the perfect game,” Conte told BT Sport. “One mistake and we know very well when you make a mistake against Barcelona and players like Messi, Suarez and Iniesta you pay.”

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