Eden Hazard ensured Chelsea’s lackluster season ended on a high note by securing the FA Cup in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the final on Saturday.
Days after raising doubts about his Chelsea future, Hazard netted from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute at Wembley Stadium after being brought down by Phil Jones.
“It was not an easy game,” Hazard said. “If we want to win a lot of games we have to play better, because today we played defensively.”
Whether Hazard remains a Chelsea player next season could depend on whether “good players” are signed in the offseason, based on the winger’s pre-match comments.
When asked about his future amid the celebrations, Hazard was coy.
“I’m just happy,” Hazard told the BBC. “You see the fans celebrating with the trophy. We didn’t play a great season but at least we finished well.”
Even if Hazard stays, it looks increasingly unlikely Antonio Conte will. The rapid collapse in the English Premier League made Conte’s future look increasingly precarious.
“We needed to achieve this goal for everybody, no matter what happens in the future,” captain Gary Cahill said.
After lifting the Premier League trophy last season, Chelsea finished 30 points behind newly crowned champion Manchester City to finish fifth last week and out of the Champions League places.
“This was to save our season,” Cahill said before collecting the FA Cup. “I’m not saying we’ve had a magnificent season by any stretch. But we are used to winning, not in an arrogant way, but we have to try to win things.”
Victory for Conte — his first in a cup final — meant Jose Mourinho finished his second season at United empty-handed, paying the price for an insipid first-half display and coming to life only after the break.
United took until the 56th minute to register a shot on target when Marcus Rashford struck at goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who later rushed off his line to block the forward.
“I don’t think they deserved to win,” Mourinho said. “I am quite curious because I can imagine if my team played like Chelsea did I can imagine what everyone would be saying.”
United did finish second in the Premier League, the club’s highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired as a champion in 2013.