Antonio Conte starts Chelsea reign with last-gasp 2-1 win against West Ham
Antonio Conte started his Chelsea reign with a narrow 2-1 victory thanks to a 89th minute winner from Diego Costa.
The Blues took the lead through an Eden Hazard penalty at the start of the second half but were pegged back by James Collins. When the match was looking like it was heading for honours even, Costa took ownership of the London derby and sent Conte into delirium.
It means the new reign starts in perfect style after a mixed pre-season, but there is still no sense of Chelsea playing ‘the Conte way’ just yet, with the Italian opting for the conventional Chelsea line-up seen with predecessors Mourinho and Hiddink.
N’Golo Kante was the only new summer signing to start and he certainly made an impact from the off, although perhaps not how he imagined it as it was a booking for scything down Andy Carroll with West Ham on the break.
Ivanovic recorded the game’s first noteworthy chance but was denied by Adrian, moments before Oscar charged in on goal and was felled. Despite Anthony Taylor waving play on, it was Chelsea were gaining the upper hand.
Hazard and Costa both then had efforts from distance around the half-hour mark to assert Chelsea’s authority but crucially there was no breakthrough goal.
The wait did not last too long though as, start after the restart, Azpilicueta drove into the box and was pushed over by Antonio. Hazard stepped up and hammered the ball into the roof of the net.
West Ham were struggling to create anything meaningful but the slender one-goal lead was always going to be a worry the longer the game went on. The second insurance goal from Chelsea nearly came through Willian, but his ball could neither find Hazard or Costa to get the final touch. The Brazilian then tried a shot of his own but was denied by Adrian.
At the other end, Payet stepped up for a free-kick for West Ham and when Chelsea diverted the danger away for a corner, it looked as though the danger was clear. James Collins had other ideas, scoring the equaliser in from the ensuing corner.
Chelsea had 13 minutes to find the winner and Conte was wasting no time, instantly bringing on Pedro, Batshuayi and Moses. The latter nearly teed up the former, but it was the main man Costa who would come up trumps.
The Spaniard, who was marked tightly all game, was afforded too much space on the edge of the box and how he made the West Ham defenders pay for the lack of concentration, firmly planting the ball past Adrian to send Antonio Conte into the arms of the Chelsea fans.
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Man of the Match
DIEGO COSTA: Eden Hazard was potent in every Chelsea move but you need to put the ball in the back of the net and what a crucial goal it was by Costa, who came up with the goods to impress his new boss right from the start. They will be both be hoping it is a sign of many good things to come! 7/10
Conte was satisfied with the start: “I think the team played a good game with a great intensity and spirit. It is important to find the right spirit and intensity, we know we can improve and we must improve a lot, but today I am pleased for my players. The victory is deserved and now we have to prepare for the next game.”
Bilic was resigned: “When you lose a game and concede late, of course you are disappointed. They were better on the ball, in pressing and much more aggressive than us.”