LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrated with his team’s fans at the end of a crucial 3-0 win at Everton on Sunday but then quickly warned that plenty of work remained to be done for his side to clinch the Premier League title.
A beautiful, long-range strike from Pedro, a Gary Cahill tap-in and a neatly worked goal from substitute Willian secured three points in the trickiest test in Chelsea’s title run-in.
While aware of the significance of the victory, the Italian manager, in his first season in the Premier League, remained wary of counting his chickens.
”At this part of the season every win is a great win for us. Before this game there were five games to go. Now there are four games to go. For us every win is a great win and for this reason we must celebrate in the right way, with my players with the staff, with our fans.
“We have to have great enthusiasm and great patience because I think we are having a great season but for it to become a fantastic season we must win,” he told reporters.
That ‘fantastic season’ could yet become a repeat of the club’s double -- Premier League and FA Cup -- triumph in 2010 with Conte’s team facing Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 27.
Everton was expected to be the toughest game in Chelsea’s run-in. Ronald Koeman’s team had lost only one game at Goodison before Sunday and had won their last eight in a row but after a tight first half Chelsea ran out comfortable winners.
“For sure today is a great result for us. To win away against Everton is not easy but I think we have to continue in this way and to go step by step and game by game and take three points every game until the end,” Conte said.
”Now it is very important after this crucial week for us, we played against Tottenham for the final in the FA Cup and then on Tuesday against Southampton and now against Everton. I think we finished a crucial week very well. We all know there is this part of the season that is the most important.
“Now it is important for us to prepare the right way (for) the next game. If we don’t win against Middlesbrough (on May 8) you lose this great win,” he said.
The always emotional Conte said that his post-game interaction with his team had been physical rather than verbal.
“The message was only great hugs and great enthusiasm, great passion,” he said.
Editing by Clare Fallon