Costa gives Conte winning Start
Written By: Robert Halter
Antonio Conte became the fifth Italian manager to take charge of Chelsea as the Blues looked to extend their unbeaten home run against West Ham United to twelve games in the Monday night football at Stamford Bridge in mid August. In the twelfth minute, Adrian was forced to turn behind a low drive by Branislav Ivanovic, at his near post, after a switch in play from Oscar. Two minutes later from a long throw in by Ivanovic, a poor header away by Havard Nordtveit, was blasted over the crossbar from Eden Hazard. In the thirty first minute from an assist by Blues captain, John Terry, racing through was Hazard, who unleashed a low drive wide of the right post, but in chasing Hazard down, Andre Ayew pulled up with a calf injury and the Hammers replaced him with Gokhan Tore. In the thirty eighth minute, Hazard turned creator with a through ball to Diego Costa, who fired an effort over the upright. On the stroke of half time, after Costa was brought down by Winston Reid, an acrobatic tip over by Adrian averted Willian’s bending free kick, and then from the resulting corner by Willian, the ball was headed over from Cesar Azpilicueta. But the Blues were quick out the traps for the second half and after a ball over the top from Ivanovic, it took a strong block by Adrian to keep out Costa’s strike, but the defensive lapse by West Ham ended with Michail Antonio bringing down Azpilicueta in the area and as referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty, Hazard blasted the spot kick into the roof of the net in the forty seventh minute which resulted in a disgruntled Antonio being subbed for Sam Byram. In the sixty third minute, Oscar put the ball through to Willian, whose low fierce strike was turned behind by Adrian at full stretch, as he dived to his right. A minute later from a Willian corner, a soaring header by Terry, flew over the upright. In a final change by the claret and blue, Nordtveit was taken off for Dimitri Payet. After Azpilicueta was penalised for high kicking on Andy Carroll, a free kick by Payet cannoned off the Blues wall and behind for a corner, which Payet took and as James Collins received the ball back from Enner Valencia, he struck the Irons level with a curling strike into the right side of the goal, in the seventy seventh minute. Chelsea made their first change with Pedro on for Willian, before making another switch of Michy Batshuayi for Oscar followed by Victor Moses replacing Hazard. On eighty six minutes, a cross from the right by Moses resulted in a miss placed header by Reid, before Pedro drilled the ball wide of the left post, and then within a minute an over the top delivery by Pedro was too far over for the advancing Costa. But in dramatic fashion, the Blues sealed a late victory in the eighty ninth minute, as Nemanja Matic’s lofted ball was knocked down by Batshuayi, and on the turn, Costa fired a low strike into the left hand corner. In stoppage time, a headed pass from Carroll was laid off by Cheikhou Kouyate and as the ball fell to Payet, his strike towards goal was kept out by Thibaut Courtois and there was more frantic defending in the Chelsea penalty area, as from Payet’s cross, Carroll scrambled the ball to Valencia and it took a close range stop by Courtois to secure all three points for the Blues in a closely contested London derby.