Chelsea and Morata thank fans for changing words to chant in Stoke win
STOKE -- Antonio Conte and Alvaro Morata thanked Chelsea supporters after they changed the words to a controversial chant while honouring the striker's hat trick in Saturday's 4-0 win at Stoke.
Morata struck three times at the bet365 Stadium to take his Premier League tally to six goals in as many matches this season, and travelling Chelsea fans paid tribute to their new hero by singing: "Alvaro, Alvaro, he comes from sunny Spain, he's better than Harry Kane."
The original chant, which included a derogatory reference to rivals Tottenham with an anti-Semitic term, sparked widespread condemnation from Chelsea and the wider footballing community after it was sung loudly during last month's 2-1 victory at Leicester.
Chelsea pledged to take "the strongest possible action" against any supporters identified singing the song, and after the Stoke match both Conte and a club spokesman expressed their gratitude to their fans for changing the words.
"It was a good change and I am pleased with the new chant," Conte said. "Our fans were fantastic, they pushed us a lot. In this stadium who push a lot [for Stoke], I want to thank our fans as they helped the team a lot today."
Chelsea head of communications Steve Atkins added: "We spoke to Alvaro after the game and he was also grateful for the change."
Morata, meanwhile, took to Twitter after the game to also thank supporters.
Morata was in scintillating form, marking the end of a week that saw Diego Costa finally granted his desired move back to Atletico Madrid with Chelsea's first hat-trick in a Premier League game since Costa achieved the feat against Swansea in September 2014.
"Alvaro played very well and he scored three goals," Conte said. "For a striker that is very important. Don't forget that against Nottingham Forest the same happened with [Michy] Batshuayi. It means we create chances for our striker to take.
"I am pleased for his performance and the performance of the team. It is not easy to win away at Stoke. The game is always difficult, I remember the game last season when we struggled a lot to win and we won at the end.
"Today we started very well and then we were very good to suffer. It was important to not lose our composure, to always stay in the game and in the second half we scored two goals and we created many chances to improve the final result. The final result was 4-0 but it was a difficult game."
Chelsea's only significant period of discomfort at the bet365 Stadium came immediately following the introduction of Peter Crouch, and Thibaut Courtois had to receive lengthy treatment for a head injury after landing awkwardly as he attempted to claim the ball above the striker.
Courtois completed the match without further incident, and Conte insisted that Chelsea had obeyed Premier League rules regarding possible concussion and had not put their No. 1 goalkeeper at risk.
"I spoke to the doctor before the third and final substitution and I asked if he was OK," Conte said of Courtois. "His answer was that he was OK and [that it was safe] to make another substitution. Now the player is OK and is ready to play the next game in the Champions League [against Atletico Madrid]."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.