CONTE HAILS COSTA

Striker’s dis­ci­pline an ex­am­ple to other play­ers, says Chelsea boss

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CHELSEA man­ager An­to­nio Conte de­scribed Diego Costa as an ex­am­ple to his team­mates after the Premier League lead­ers went 13 points clear with a 2-1 win at Stoke City.

The in­fa­mously feisty Costa, dropped in

Jan­uary after re­ports of a row with Conte, was left walk­ing a dis­ci­plinary tightrope after be­ing booked for sim­u­la­tion in the 16th minute of Satur­day’s game at the Bet365 Sta­dium.

The con­tro­ver­sial Spain striker was in­volved in nu­mer­ous clashes with Stoke play­ers, par­tic­u­larly cen­tre-backs Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi, but man­aged to re­main on the pitch and Conte praised the way Costa re­fused to be baited.

“It’s not easy when you re­ceive a yel­low card after a few min­utes,” said Conte, whose side pre­vailed courtesy of an 87thminute win­ner by cen­tre-back Gary Cahill.

“The rule is it’s nor­mal to make a player an­gry and to get him to re­act and to com­mit an­other foul.

“I think Diego is show­ing not only in this game that you have to be very dis­ci­plined. Diego is show­ing him­self to be a great player in this way.

“He showed me great com­mit­ment and showed he was play­ing for the team and not for him­self. I want that from my play­ers and that be­hav­iour from my play­ers.

“In the past some­times he has been given two yel­low cards. This sea­son I’ve been pleased with him be­cause of his be­hav­iour.”

Cahill fired home the win­ner as Chelsea left it late after Jonathan Wal­ters’s penalty seven min­utes be­fore the break can­celled out Wil­lian’s 13thminute free-kick. Cahill went from vil­lain to hero, hav­ing pushed Wal­ters to con­cede the spot-kick.

Chelsea looked the more likely win­ners in the sec­ond half as Mar­cos Alonso and Costa hit the wood­work and Stoke goal­keeper Lee Grant de­nied Pe­dro.

Chelsea’s fifth straight win in all com­pe­ti­tions ex­tended their run to 12 matches with­out de­feat and ended Stoke’s eight-game un­beaten home record in the league.

Conte, who re­vealed play­maker Eden Hazard missed the game after hurt­ing his calf in training on Fri­day, be­lieves Chelsea need seven wins from their last 10 games to be math­e­mat­i­cally sure of the title.

“I think this was an im­por­tant win be­cause it was against a strong team in a great at­mos­phere,” he said.

“It’s not easy at this point of the sea­son to play a team who also have good qual­ity and good tac­ti­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“But I think we showed a good will to win from the start to the end. The play­ers showed me a will to win, but they also showed they were pre­pared to fight to win this game.”

APPIC

Chelsea’s Gary Cahill (cen­tre) cel­e­brates his goal against Stoke with team­mates in their Premier League match on Satur­day.

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