Thibaut Courtois said he was surprised by Antonio Conte’s decision to substitute Eden Hazard in Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.
Hazard was taken off by Conte in the 73rd minute, just two minutes before Jesse Lingard scored the winner in a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford. And that move confused the Chelsea goalkeeper.
“I don’t have any explanation concerning Eden’s substitution,” Courtois told Play Sports. “I didn’t expect him to go off, but it was the coach’s decision. It would be good for him to explain it because I can’t look inside his head.”
Conte said after the defeat, which left Chelsea in fifth place in the Premier League, that Hazard was taken off as a “tactical decision” as it became clear that he was tired in the second half.
“We have to keep the same performance for 90 minutes,” Conte said. “Otherwise, we don’t have a great balance. Every single player has to work with the ball, without the ball, otherwise we lose our balance and the game.
“I think he finished his energy. In the first half, he ran a lot. In the second half, he started the same way. But when I see a player is a bit tired, my task is to find a different solution.”
Hazard has scored 11 goals in 24 league appearances, and Courtois, his Belgium teammate, said that the forward should be on the pitch for the entirety of a game if he is fully fit.
“For me, a player like Eden should play for 90 minutes,” Courtois said. “He can always contribute something in the attacking final third.”
ESPN FC’s France correspondent Ian Holyman contributed to this report.
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.