Antonio Conte called Chelsea’s progression to the Carabao Cup semi-finals remarkable and lauded the performance of 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth.
Willian had given Chelsea a 13th-minute lead but the Blues invited pressure and Dan Gosling equalised in the 90th minute of the quarter-final tie at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea attacked from the restart and Eden Hazard back-heeled into the path of fellow substitute Alvaro Morata, who tucked in to send the Blues through.
“This is a remarkable achievement for us,” said head coach Conte, who made eight changes. “The players deserve to have this night.”
The much-changed Blues struggled to assert themselves against the Cherries, who piled on pressure in the second half.
But Ampadu showed his class on his second start and following an early rush of blood which saw him booked in the second minute for a foul on visiting striker Jermain Defoe.
“Ampadu played the whole game with this problem,” Conte said.
“It’s not simple for a defender to play with a yellow card after one minute. You have to play 93 minutes, 94 minutes with this danger. He showed great maturity, great personality.
“Now he has to stay calm. Maybe the next game he goes to play with the youth league. I don’t know.
“He could have a great future, but he has to continue in this way, to improve, to work. Don’t think of this performance.”
Conte was also thrilled with the quick-fire response of his side after Bournemouth levelled.
He added: “It was important, because to go and to play 30 minutes more, I think it was a bit dangerous.
“We had a great reaction. It’s not simple to concede a goal in the last minute of the game. When you have this type of reaction, it means you have players with great character, great personality, great heart.”
Conte was speaking before the semi-final draw which means Chelsea and Arsenal will meet in the last four, and the Italian is keen to progress in the competition.
“We want to continue, to try to reach Wembley to play the final,” Conte added.
Morata was booked after his winner and is now suspended for Saturday’s trip to Everton, where Conte could deploy Hazard as a ‘false nine’ once more.