Premier League: Chelsea's Antonio Conte hails Eden Hazard's 'great character' after being targeted
Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea's Premier League rivals that Eden Hazard can't be intimidated by rough tackles.
London: Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea's Premier League rivals that Eden Hazard can't be intimidated by rough tackles.
Hazard was subjected to some brutal challenges during Chelsea's FA Cup quarter-final win over Manchester United on Monday.
United midfielder Ander Herrera was sent off for two fouls on Hazard, while Marcos Rojo appeared to stamp on the Chelsea midfielder's chest in the closing stages at Stamford Bridge.
Blues boss Conte was furious with United's cynical tactics, but he never doubted Hazard would find a way to thrive despite the assault on his legs.
"Eden is showing great football but also has great character and great personality in every game," Conte said on Friday.
"He is growing a lot in this aspect. For him, it's fantastic. Not only for him, but also for the team.
"In the first 20-25 minutes (against United) I saw only this type of situation for him, and it was impossible for him to play football.
"I don't like this, and I always want to face a team who want to play football and to beat us playing football. That's important."
Hazard's superb performances have made him one of the stand-out contributors for Chelsea in a season that could end with a league and cup double.
Conte's team, who travel to Stoke on Saturday, are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League and face Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-finals next month.
Asked about the prospect of one of his squad being named the player of the season, Conte said: "I hope that, at the end of the season, one of my players could be.
"It would mean we've won the league and, for me, it would be a great satisfaction to have one of my players winning this award.
"Until now it's important to be concentrated on the league and try and play game by game, to be focused. They are important but, if you don't win, they are not important."
Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock for Chelsea after 69 minutes at Stamford Bridge to earn the holders a 1-0 victory over Zenit, whose Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg is the venue for next May's final.
United are currently top of the Premier League after three wins in their first four matches.
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