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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Antonio Conte hails 'fantastic' Chelsea fans for 'pushing the team' to victory at Stoke

Premier League champions returned to winning ways thanks largely to Alvaro Morata's first hat-trick for the club.

Antonio Conte has thanked Chelsea's "fantastic" fans for their role in the 4-0 Premier League win against Stoke City on Saturday.

A hat-trick for Alvaro Morata and a classy finish from Pedro ensured the reigning champions returned to winning ways in emphatic style following last week's goalless draw at home to Arsenal.

Chelsea remain three points behind Manchester City and Manchester United following their wins over Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively.

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"Our fans were fantastic today and they pushed a lot the team in every moment of the game," Conte said. "In this stadium the crowd push a lot and I want to thank our fans because I repeat they helped a lot the team today.

"It's not easy to win away against Stoke. This game is always difficult. "I remember very well last season when we struggled a lot to win and we also won at the end of the game.

"Today we started very well and then we started to suffer and it was important not to lose our composure, to always stay in the game.

"In the second half we scored two goals and created many chances to improve the final result. The final result was 4-0, but I think that it was a difficult game."

Morata, 24, scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea since his club record £70 million (Dh347m) summer move from Real Madrid. The Spanish striker has now scored six goals and created two assists in his first six Premier League games.

"I think Alvaro performed very well. He scored a hat-trick and for our strikers it's very important," Conte said. "It means we created chances for our strikers to take, but I am pleased for his performance and I'm pleased for the performance of the team."

Conte confirmed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had suffered no ill-effects from a heavy landing on his neck during the second half and will be fit to face his former club Atletico Madrid in the Uefa Champions League on Wednesday.

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