Antonio Conte: Chelsea manager concedes title after loss to West Ham

Antonio Conte conceded that Chelsea’s title defence “never started” and that his team are out of the Premier League title race after losing to West Ham United.

Marko Arnautovic’s goal earned the Hammers, who are in 18th place, a 1-0 victory over the Blues at London Stadium, while the champions suffered a fourth defeat of the season on Saturday and are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City.

During the start of the Premier League season, Chelsea opened their title defence with a loss against Burnley and had also gone on to lose in back-to-back games against Manchester City and struggling Crystal Palace. West Ham were without a win in eight league games before defeating the Blues last weekend.

Those defeats saw the defending champions dropping 16 points, just five short of the entire number they ceded in 2016-17, and Conte admitted that it is far short of the standard required for a realistic tilt at the top.

“To talk about the title race after a defeat, I think it a bit strange,” the Italian said. “Especially as this is the fourth defeat this season in 16 games. When you have this task it is impossible to think that you are in the title race.”

“My experience is this: if you want to stay in the race for the title, in the first part of the season you can lose once or twice. After 16 games, if you lose four, it means you never started this race.”

Conte also added that the players were tired in the game, rarely threatening despite their 69% possession.

“We created the chances but didn’t take them,” Conte added. “Today, many players were tired. It is normal when you play every few days. We started our pre-season with the same players, a lot are playing almost always, and you have to pay something for this.”

“We  have a lot of reason to justify the result against Manchester City — we played after two days. When you lose against Palace, when they are bottom of the table, and lose again against West Ham when they are in a bad position — if you lose points in these games, you are not in the title race.”

Another record for Ronaldo as Real Madrid strikes late to beat Dortmund

Cristiano Ronaldo set another benchmark as he became the first player to score in every Champions League group stage match as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

Real were set on their way by Borja Mayoral’s first goal in the competition, set up by Ronaldo, who quickly added a second himself for his ninth in the Champions League this season.

The defending champions of Europe took the lead after just eight minutes, when Ronaldo waltzed between two Dortmund defenders on the left and poked the ball across the face of goal where Isco helped it into the path of Mayoral, who clipped his finish over Roman Burki.

Ronaldo then put himself on the scoreboard when he curled in a lovely right-foot shot into the far top corner from the left-hand side of the penalty area to extend the lead after 12 minutes.

Both him and Mayoral could have put the match beyond Dortmund but a combination of wayward finishing and good positioning from Burki saw the score remain at 2-0.

Despite lagging behind by two goals, Dortmund took their time to get back into the game and responded through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been anonymous before launched himself at Marcel Schmelzer’s cross to pull a goal back with a diving header a minute before the break.

It was not four minutes into the second half, when Aubameyang equalized from Shinji Kagawa’s pass that had found him unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and, after his initial effort was saved by Keylor Navas, Aubameyang chipped the rebound over the Madrid goalkeeper.

However, Zinedine Zidane’s team did get a third goal with nine minutes remaining when Lucas Vazquez found the bottom corner of the net with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Dortmund would enter the Europa League despite collecting just two points from their six games, thanks to a better goal difference than Apoel Nicosia who finished on the same amount of points. Meanwhile, Real would learn who their next opponents would be when the draw is made on Monday.

Atletico Madrid drops to Europa League after draw with Chelsea

Diego Simeone believe that Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign was not a failure despite being eliminated on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

The Madrid team had needed the full three points in order to progress to the knockout stages as both Chelsea and Roma were ahead of them in points in Group C.

But their last group fixture saw the Blues dominated proceedings against the La Liga giants until Atletico opened the scoring when Saul Niguez escaped the attentions of Tiemoue Bakayoko to plant home a header from Fernando Torres’ near-post flick-on after 56 minutes.

Chelsea proceeded to pile more pressure and pour more men forward on Atletico as time ebbed away, and eventually Stefan Savic turned Eden Hazard’s cross into his own net as the pressure told.

With the game ending with the score tied at 1-1, Atletico — semi-finalists last season and runners-up in two of the last four saw their Champions League campaign conclude in a curiously weak manner.

“It hurts, and we’ve actually managed to get more points from the team who finished top of the group than the one who finished bottom,” added Simeone.

“This sort of thing can happen. They gave it their all to win and try to go through until the last minute. We’re fine. What’s important is to be decisive. You need to score. We only lost one game [in the UEFA Champions League], in the 93rd minute. No excuses – we’ll be rated at the end of the season.”

“I’m going to motivate the players for the UEFA Europa League as I would for a friendly, a La Liga game, a Copa del Rey game. When you wear the Atletico shirt, you don’t need additional motivation. It’s now a new challenge for us. New dreams to fight for.”