Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri paid tribute to Eden Hazard after the winger responded to his manager’s criticism with an excellent performance against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup.
Sarri questioned Hazard’s leadership abilities earlier this week but there were no questions about his mentality here as he caused problems for Tottenham’s defence all evening.
“I think Hazard was having fun,” Sarri said after the match, quoted by Sky Sports News. “I had fun for 65 minutes watching Hazard.
“He was a little bit tired in the last part of the match, he ran a lot, but he played a fantastic, wonderful match.
“The position is not a big problem, this match we played with another mind, motivation and determination. His qualities are more important than the position.”
In a scathing criticism of his whole squad after last weekend’s Premier League defeat to Arsenal, Sarri claimed that his group was ‘very difficult to motivate’, but he hoped that Thursday’s victory could be a springboard to improved performances.
“The last three or four matches we had a problem, the problem was the motivation and the players stopped to have fun on the pitch,” Sarri added.
“Now with that performance and result we can find enthusiasm again. We need to continue this motivation. That was very important.
“The players reacted really well tonight. I was very happy with the performance before the penalties. If there had been a different outcome I would have still been happy. We deserved to win this game without penalties.”
Chelsea will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on 24 February.