Costa steers Chelsea to winning start
Striker Diego Costa struck in the 89th minute as Chelsea won their first competitive match under new manager Antonio Conte, beating West Ham 2-1 yesterday in the English Premier League.
"I'm delighted with the performance. I saw a lot of things that are working, a good intensity with the ball, but we know we can improve," said Conte, a former Juventus and Italy manager. "We are only working one month together, but tonight I saw the right intensity."
West Ham thought they had grabbed a late equaliser in the London derby at Stamford Bridge after James Collins' well-struck shot in the 77th minute cancelled out Eden Hazard's penalty kick.
But Costa was able to steer the ball past West Ham goalkeeper Adrian from outside the box to give the home team the result they deserved.
West Ham rode their luck for much of the match with goalkeeper Adrian denying Willian twice in the first half.
West Ham finally conceded early in the second half when Michail Antonio brought down Cesar Azpilicueta after giving the ball away while trying to dribble out of the penalty area. Hazard shot straight down the middle to beat Adrian in the 47th and Antonio was quickly substituted by furious Hammers manager Slaven Bilic.
N'Golo Kante impressed on his league debut for Chelsea, snuffing out the bulk of West Ham's attacks, and midfielders Oscar and Nemanja Matic worked hard to dominate midfield.
West Ham clawed their way back into match following the 67th-minute introduction of midfielder Dimitri Payet, who was on the bench because of a lack of match fitness after having been granted extended leave by Bilic following his impressive performance for France at the European Championship.
The visitors started to create opportunities. But it was Costa who ensured the late victory, still on the pitch despite a studded tackle on Adrian that could have earned him a second yellow card.
"We were so close against a top side on their ground, but they deserved it," Bilic said. "Let's be honest, we didn't create chances and we gave them a penalty and they were winning the second balls."