It will not save his season, or even perhaps his place, but it will put the balm in the heart of Antonio Conte: Chelsea won Saturday the final of the FA Cup, beating Manchester United with a penalty kick Eden Hazard (1-0).
More than a spring trophy, this FA Cup was adorned with many virtues. It would have allowed the “Red Devils” to save a poor campaign by adding some silverware to the trophy cabinet.
It is finally the “Blues”, finalist unhappy last season, who will be able to admire and think back to a season now a little less failed, which saw them go out in the eighth-finals of the Champions League and especially miss the qualification for the next edition finishing at a mediocre fifth place in the Premier League.
According to the British press, Conte, angry with his rulers because of the club’s transfer policy, is not expected to see London again next season. It is not at all certain that a victory in the FA Cup will change anything, both in his mind and in that of his bosses.
The Italian, who can in any case head out after a coronation and FA Cup in just two seasons, may find some form of satisfaction in the identity of the loser, Jose Mourinho, his rival hated.
If the two men played the card of cordiality and ignorance during the meeting, they did not hide the “contempt” they felt for each other after a back that has lasted since the arrival from Conte to Stamford Bridge.
Not that the boiling Apulian remained calm in his technical area, but his ire was rather directed against the referee, guilty, according to him, of not having inflicted a red card to Phil Jones for his fault on Hazard.
With a penalty already awarded, the “Blues” could not complain. Hazard has not asked anyone anything before turning it into a quiet counterpoise on David De Gea (22).
Excellent, the Belgian, who was able to rely on Olivier Giroud point, made suffer the Mancunians, who have as often this season missed a little inspiration in the last gesture.
At Wembley, the “Red Devils” have yet many attempts in the second act, but Lukaku, barely recovered from his ankle injury and on the bench until the 73rd minute, they never managed to find the fault.
Much more enterprising in the second act, both in pressing and with the ball, the Mancunian stumbled on a great Thibaut Courtois, imperial in his goals.
Marcus Rashford, the incumbent leader, first sent a shot into a forest of legs, but the Belgian goalkeeper had the good reflex (56). He once again frustrated the English striker making the exit just to win his duel (72).
Between the two stops, Matic had crushed his half-volley on a poorly clear ball (60), then Alexis Sanchez had his goal refused after returning to offside a ball superbly repelled by Courtois (62).
Pogba may also regret his head uncrossed late in the game, while he had the equalizer at the end of the forehead (82).
With Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Lukaku, entered to give vitality, the “Red Devils” launched their last attacks, but against Courtois and an impressive wall Gary Cahill-Antonio Rüdiger-Cesar Azpilicueta, it was certainly not enough.