Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was full of praise for his side's supporters after the Blues defeated Southampton 2-0 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday. Olivier Giroud scored a stunning individual goal, before substitute Álvaro Morata sealed the win with a late header.
As quoted on the Chelsea website, Conte said of his side's victory: "It’s very important for the players, for the club and especially for our fans. I’m delighted for them. Always this season they showed great passion and pushed us in every moment, difficult moments and positive moments."
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, the Italian also stressed the significance of his side's impressive FA Cup run, in what has been a difficult season for last season's Premier League winners: "It’s important for us to reach a final in this competition especially because we are struggling a lot in the league."
The term "struggling" is relative - Conte's side will definitely be in one of the two UEFA club competitions next season. However, they face an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Yet the Chelsea boss told the BBC that his side had not given up on the possibility of a top-four finish.
"Now our target is to try and put a bit of pressure on the teams in front of us in the Premier League and get a place in the Champions League and finish as best as possible," Conte said.
Chelsea will face Manchester United in the FA Cup final on 19th May. The Blues will hope that they fare better than in last year's final, which they lost 2-1 to Arsenal.
On his club's website, Conte struck a cautiously optimistic note about his side's prospects against United, while insisting that his side would be the underdogs.
He said: "Last season we arrived in the final as favourites; this season we will arrive not as favourites, but last season we lost the final despite being favourites at that moment."