Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois took a spot kick in Chelsea’s Community Shield shoot-out defeat to Arsenal because he is one of the club’s “best players to take a penalty,” according to boss Antonio Conte.
The Premier League champions lost the season curtain raiser 4-1 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 in 90 minutes.
Trailing 2-1 in the shootout, Courtois took the Blues’ second kick, only for the Belgian ‘keeper to blaze over the bar, before club-record signing Alvaro Morata also fired wide.
“Courtois is one of the best players to take a penalty,” said Conte.
“If you have player who shows you during the training session that he is one of the best then you pick him to shoot the penalty. But don’t forget also that Morata is a forward and he did the same.”
Morata started the match on the bench, before replacing Michy Batshuayi up front with 16 minutes to go at the home of football.
However, after making little impact on the match, and missing from the spot in the shootout, Chelsea’s Italian boss pleaded for patience for the club’s record £70m signing.
“Morata needs to work, but it is normal,” said Conte. “He stays with us for only one week and it is very important to find a good physical condition and to understand our idea of football.
“He needs a bit of time but that’s normal and it’s the same for [Antonio] Rudiger (who was also a substitute). It will be the same also for [Tiemoue] Bakayoko (who was not involved).
As for losing to the FA Cup winners, Conte was keen to highlight referee Bobby Maddley’s failure to award his side a penalty after Willian went over in the area under pressure from Hector Bellerin.
The official, though, decided that Willian had dived after the Arsenal wing back’s miscontrol, but replays showed there to be contact before the Brazilian clipped his own heels.
The Italian, however, refused to comment on Pedro’s red card after the forward had caught Mohamed Elneny on the Achilles 10 minutes from time.
“For sure, there is disappointment to finish for the second time with 10 men against Arsenal, before in the FA Cup and now in the Community Shield,” he said.
“I didn’t see, honestly, the images and I didn’t see also the yellow card for Willian. A lot of people told me that the penalty was clear.
“For sure, there is a bit of frustration. You know very well that you must accept the referee’s decision, but sometimes this decision makes you a bit angry.
“He tried to explain to me his decision, but there wasn’t time. I wanted to ask him why there wasn’t the penalty for Willian and about the yellow card. But then we would have stayed there until nine o’clock!
“I repeat we must accept the decision, but if you remember in the FA Cup there was also a controversial decision against us.
“This game was a tough game for both teams. We tried to win and we tried to improve our physical condition because in six days we have to start the league. But now the most important thing is to continue to work and try to improve our team.”