‘Referee was right not to send off Diego Costa’ – Chelsea boss Antonio Conte backs striker after last-minute winner controversy

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the referee made the right call to not send off striker Diego Costa, who later scored the winning goal in their Premier League clash with West Ham.

The Spanish striker courted controversy again on Monday night as he avoided a second yellow card for a late challenge on Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

He then handed Conte the ideal start to his Premier League career at Stamford Bridge, by scoring late on to seal a 2-1 victory for Chelsea over their London rivals.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic said following the game that the frotman should have been sent off, though admitted the challenge was NOT a reckless one.

But new boss Conte moved quickly to defend his man, insisting Costa forward did not deserve a red card.

“I must be honest Diego tried to put pressure on Adrian, and then before the contact he stopped,” said Conte.

“And then for this reason I think that the referee took the right decision.

“We know Diego is a passionate man, and he puts passion into everything he does.

“And he showed he will run for everything.

“But in this situation I must be honest I think that the referee took the right decision.”

Former Juventus boss Conte opted to leave Cesc Fabregas on the bench for Monday’s game.

The Spain midfielder has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer, with former club Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus all reportedly interested.

But Conte insisted Fabregas retains a pivotal role at the club.

“Cesc is Chelsea’s player, and I’m happy about him, with his attitude and behaviour,” said Conte.

“He must know from before that when we are a great team like Chelsea it can happen that I have to take a decision before the game to choose a starting XI.

“It can happen that Fabregas is not in the starting XI, but it can happen for all the players.”

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