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Report: Lossl saves Terriers but condemns Conte

Huddersfield Town opted to miss their flight home last night after securing their Premier League status at Stamford Bridge, instead taking the team bus – presumably packed with beers to chug and champagne to pop.

After a frustrating 96 minutes for Antonio Conte and Chelsea however, the final whistle bought a very much sober realisation that the season, and perhaps the Italian’s reign in South West London, had come to an end.

The draw means Chelsea, barring a small miracle, will finish fifth in the Premier League and miss out on Champions League football for the second time in three years.

“I’m realistic – I think at the end of the season you finish in the position you deserve,” Conte said, “We dropped many points this season – and if we stay fifth then we’ll deserve to stay in that position.

“For this season, for sure, it is my last game here,” the Italian continued, desperate to get back to his dressing room, “Not only me, but the players too. I don’t have anything to add. It is not my task, there is a club to judge the situation and then take the best decision.”

Conte’s sullen tone and refusal to provide direct answers said it all, for he knows who will be his judge, jury and executioner. Roman Abramovich has had the head’s of numerous Chelsea boss’ before him, many of whom surpassed the achievements of this season. A fifth placed finish and potential FA Cup trophy just won’t cut it at Stamford Bridge, and the Italian knows it.

From the off, fans at The Bridge were left bemused at the omission of Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard, both of whom have been in such glistening form as of late. Knowing nothing but a victory would do against a sure-to-be stubborn Huddersfield, leaving out the club’s two most potent attacking threats seemed nonsensical.

The home side dominated the first-half, but failed to convert as they have done too often this season. Defender Antonio Rudiger had two clear-cut chances to give his side the lead, but it was a case of wrong man in the right place as the German spurned both, much to the dismay of Willian, provider on both occasions.

Alvaro Morata’s struggles also continued with the Spaniard missing two chances himself, the best of which coming when he smartly rolled the otherwise excellent Christoph Schindler before rounding keeper Jonas Lossl. The angle became too tight and his pull-back was comfortably cleared.

Wasted opportunities were rued only five minutes into the second period when Huddersfield took an unlikely lead in the form of the lumbering Laurent Depoitre. Aaron Mooy’s lofted ball over the top found the Frenchman, who first clattered into the onrushing Willy Caballero, before finding his feet again and slotting home for his first goal of the calendar year.

Moments later, in-came Conte’s cavalry as Davide Zappacosta and Pedro made way for Giroud and Hazard. The shift in dynamic was instant. Giroud hustled and bustled in the box, holding the ball up well and bringing others into play, while Hazard toyed with the Terriers, jinking and jiving in spaces that appeared absent.

Less than ten minutes after their introduction, Chelsea had equalised. Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross was cleared by Mathias Jørgensen, only for the ball to cannon back off the unknowing Marcos Alonso’s head and into the net.

The remaining 34 minutes felt like a jammed up tape recorder, where the same clip played over and over again. Chelsea attacked to no avail. Huddersfield lumped it clear. Repeat.

Pressure rarely equated to chances for the hosts, and on the one occasion it did, Jonas Lossl denied Andreas Christensen with one of the saves of the season.

The Huddersfield shot-stopper altered his body and flung out a strong right hand at the last second, patting the Dane’s late header onto the post – in-turn securing one of the most unlikely Premier League survivals of all-time, and seemingly ending Antonio Conte’s two-year reign at Stamford Bridge.

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