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