Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hailed Thibaut Courtois as ‘one of the world’s best goalkeepers’ after the Belgian’s stoppage-time wonder-save preserved a 1-0 victory over Sunderland.
Cesc Fabregas’ first goal of the season gave the Blues a first-half lead, but two fine saves by Courtois helped keep Sunderland at bay and secure a 10th win in a row for the London club.
Having denied Black Cats’ Adnan Januzaj early in the second-half with an excellent low save, he was then called into action again in the dying minutes and somehow managed to paw away a vicious effort from Patrick van Aanholt.
The world-class save was recognised by Conte after the match, and he heaped praise onto the Belgian ‘keeper.
“For Thibaut it’s more difficult because for the whole game you wait and you could lose concentration but he is a fantastic goalkeeper,” Conte said.
“One of the best in the world, if not the best, and I’m pleased to have him in my team.”
Chelsea controlled large parts of the game and had opportunities to put Sunderland out of reach, but for the second straight game they failed to kill the opposition off after taking the lead.
This left Conte to say his side remains a work in progress despite their 10-match winning run.
“It was a good performance because I think we dominated the game and had chances to score the second goal but when you don’t kill the game, you risk at the end at lot,” Conte added.
“A great save from Thibaut allowed us to win and in this aspect we can improve but to find something negative after 10 wins is very difficult.
“For sure, we will speak about this and find a resolution and continue to improve.”
Chelsea’s remarkable run of form has extended their advantage over second place to six points, and the 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light guaranteed them top spot over Christmas.
“We have 10 wins in a row and that’s fantastic because that’s very difficult in this league,” Conte continued.
“It is important to continue to work and I prefer my players don’t look at the table.
“On Saturday we will have another tough game against Crystal Palace and then it’s Christmas and we hope to stay with a good table.
“I think we are doing great work and I am pleased for the players because they show me great commitment and this result is fantastic for us.”