Chelsea Triumph Over West Ham In Conte’s First Game

Antonio Conte

Diego Costa’s late strike gave Antonio Conte a dramatic winning start as Chelsea manager as his side secured a season-opening victory over West Ham.

The Spain striker found the net from 20 yards in the 89th minute to spark wild scenes at Stamford Bridge, with Conte celebrating among supporters.

Eden Hazard had put the Blues in front from the spot after Michail Antonio fouled Cesar Azpilicueta.

James Collins levelled for the Hammers, but Costa’s finish settled it.

Conte’s capers as Costa gets lucky

Eden Hazard touchmap_90801210_hazard

After a disastrous start to last season, which led to Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December and a 10th-place finish, Conte’s arrival at Chelsea will at the very least inject passion and animation into a side routinely accused of lacking commitment last term.

The former Juventus coach, where he won Serie A three times, is fresh from taking Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where he displayed tactical nous alongside animated touchline antics.

And Chelsea supporters hugged their new manager in delight as he sprinted along the front of the stands following Costa’s low shot had crept into the net.

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But the 27-year-old had been fortunate to still be on the pitch when, having already been booked for remonstrating with the referee, he escaped a second booking when he caught Hammers keeper Adrian high up on the shin with a late challenge.

The question of whether Chelsea can mount a strong title challenge will still remain after this display, with the Blues dominating possession but failing to finish off the visitors until late on.

But the all-action, energetic performance of £30m midfield signing N’Golo Kante – who won the title with Leicester City last season – and the vibrancy of Hazard, were positive signs.

Belgium winger Hazard looked particularly sharp and creative, following an impressive European Championship for his country.

However, Conte is likely to pursue further signings, with striker Michy Batshuayi – a late substitute – the only other new arrival.

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