Italian decided to drop the pair to the bench as Blues beat rival Spurs to reach FA Cup final
ANTONIO CONTE admits his Wembley masterstroke was a massive risk.
The Chelsea boss kept Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench for an hour – but still pulled off a stunning 4-2 win to keep on course for the Double.
He said: “During the season there is a moment as a coach you must take a strong decision. You have to take a risk.
“If you win the plan worked, if you don’t the responsibility is on you. I think today our plan worked very well.”
Conte replaced star man Hazard with Willian, who scored Chelsea’s first two goals.
But they were cancelled out by Harry Kane and Dele Alli – and the semi-final was in the balance until Hazard came on.
The Belgian wizard hailed his manager’s bold decision, which keeps players fresh for their Premier League game on Tuesday against Southampton.
Hazard said: “The manager told me the day before the game, you have to expect everything in football.
“When you play football you want to play every game but I think he did a great choice. He put Willian in and Willian scored the first two goals so it’s good for us.”
Conte can now pull off the Double like Carlo Ancelotti in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
He side are four points ahead of Spurs in the table and face Arsenal or Manchester City in the FA Cup final.
He said: “I am proud for this achievement. It is great for the players, for me. This is my first season in England and it is great to fight for the title and reach the final of the FA Cup, a great competition.
“I am pleased for my players and for our fans. Today they were great from the start until the end. Now we have to continue, on Tuesday have another tough game, I hope our fans push us a lot.”
Hazard grabbed the third goal and then teed up Nemanja Matic for one of the great Wembley goals.
But the Serb said: “I am happy for my goal, it was a great goal, but it’s not the best I’ve ever scored. I scored a harder one in a Benfica v Porto derby… this is perhaps my second best ever!
“It’s great when you have a chance to play in this stadium. For our supporters, you can see this is something special. To have a chance to win this trophy is significant for us as players.
“This result gives us more confidence of course – it’s always good to win.
Now we have to recover quickly for the next game on Tuesday.”
Mauricio Pochettino insists the defeat will not impact on the title race.
His side are four points behind but he was proud of their performance in this tie.
He said: “It is not important – we will move on. It is true the players are disappointed. But we will work tomorrow on the training ground, change again and focus on the league against Crystal Palace.
“If we play like we did in this game you cannot be worried as you give your best, it wasn’t possible and in football today doesn’t always pay you what you deserve in the end.
“But I understand football taotally sometimes you play well and don’t win – now we can only be a little bit disappointed as in the next game we will try to close the gap to Chelsea, try to catch up.”
Poch also paid tribute to the Ugo Ehiogu after his death last week.
He added: “It was a big shock for all if us as it was a person very close to us. We were on the training ground and it was a big impact as he was a person very close to us. At that moment we realised real life.
“It is true we are fighting to win games but it is all relative after this type of situation.
“I want to say my consolences to family and friends and the Tottenham family as it is a big loss to us.”