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Chelsea Defeat Breathes Life Into Title Race

Antonio Conte admitted the Premier League title race was interesting again after his Chelsea side were beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s 13-game winning run at home came to a shuddering halt as Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke scored two goals in quick succession after Cesc Fabregas had opened the scoring.

Chelsea are now seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham with nine games to play, beginning with Wednesday’s clash with rivals Manchester City. They need 21 points to win the title.

“For sure, for you [the media] it’s a good result, because it makes this more interesting in the championship,” Conte said. “But I always said the league finishes when you have the mathematical [certainty] that you won.

“Otherwise you must fight, you must play every game to try to win.

“In England it doesn’t exist an easy game. Every game will be very tough, from now until the end – if the team name is Manchester City or a team that is fighting for the relegation zone.

“They [Palace] played a good game, but we deserved at least a draw. We created many chances to score several goals. Palace just scored two goals in two minutes. We are disappointed with the final result.

“We tried to play, we tried to force situations to score, now it happens, and it is important to prepare for the next game.

“When you lose in this way you must be disappointed. You have to learn from these situations and try to win the next game.

“We played with a good intensity, created many chances, but it was not our day.”

Conte said Andros Townsend should have been penalised for handball in the first half even though referee Craig Pawson waved away Chelsea penalty appeals.

“The players told me that it was a handball and very clear,” Conte added.

“I didn’t see it in the moment. It can happen [referee missing it], in the future I hope this can happen for us.”