Antonio Conte singled out Aaron Ramsey’s quick-fire goal as the key reason for his side’s FA Cup final loss to Arsenal.
The Blues fell behind to a controversial early Alexis Sanchez goal before Victor Moses was dismissed for a second bookable offence after diving in the penalty area.
But despite Diego Costa scoring an equaliser with a quarter of an hour remaining, Chelsea immediately fell behind again, as Ramsey restored the Gunners’ lead.
And Conte felt his side’s failure to keep the scores level for a longer period was too difficult to recover from with only 10 men.
“I think our start for sure wasn’t good enough,” he said.
“Arsenal started the game better than us, honestly I think the goal after three minutes in this way, I think it was not disallowed because there is a clear handball but our start wasn’t good.
“Then we started to play, in the second half we started very well and created the chances to equalise.
“The second yellow card for Moses was for sure one of the two key moments.
“But to play for 10 men, we were able to equalise and then to concede a second goal was a key moment for the loss.”
The former Juventus coach also refuted claims his players struggled to raise themselves for the final having already secured the Premier League title.
“It is not easy but I think that we won the league and it was right to celebrate and enjoy this win,” he added.
“I think that my players put all of themselves into the game, maybe our start wasn’t good and the impact and approach wasn’t good and Arsenal pushed a lot. We paid for this start.”
“Per Mertesacker for me is a perfect example for any young professional football player.
“What he did today was just a consequence of an unbelievable attitude every day, even if not selected, until the Everton game in the squad.
“He played his first game tonight and when he was not selected he worked even harder, which is why I pay a special tribute for him tonight.”