With a minute from time Chelsea needed a miracle to win their opening match of the season against West Ham.
In what could have been an unpromising start for Antonio Conte, Spanish striker Diego Costa decided to take matters into his own hands.
His long range effort was more of a desperation than expectation shot, but his right boot swung in past the West Ham keeper sending Antonio Conte into frantic celebration on the touchline.
Costa tried his luck and it smiled upon him, not for the first time in the match.
Chelsea striker was fortunate to still be on the pitch and to be able to score the 89th-minute winner after that rough challenge on West Ham goalkeeper Adrian earlier in the game which caused quite a stir afterwards.
Did Costa deserve to be sent off?
Chelsea forward started the new 2016/17 Premier League season the exact way he ended the last one. His on-pitch behaviour often described as combustible would frustrate even the most neutral of a football fan out there.
No stranger to arguing with rivals, referees and even his own teammates, Diego Costa would often go unpunished for his frequent antics.
It took the Spaniard less than 20 minutes into the new season to get in the book with Anthony Taylor showing yellow to Chelsea striker for dissent. Premier League announced earlier in the season that they would be cracking down on dissent during the new campaign in order to deal with footballers who choose to be disrespectful to referees.
First one to feel the wrath of the brand new officiating rule was – quite expectedly – Diego Costa. New season, same story as the Spaniard was once again embroiled in controversy at Stamford Bridge, the one which has by far exceeded his argument with Anthony Taylor.
Arms and eyebrows were raised in protest in the 67th minute with Diego Costa dicing with danger and showing little regard to his yellow card. Chelsea striker caught Adrian on the knee with the studs up, leaving a clear visible mark on West Ham goalkeeper’s shin, but referee Anthony Taylor did nothing.
West Ham felt aggrieved, believing that Costa should have seen direct red, let alone his second yellow for a harsh foul on their shot stopper. The overall consensus has been made with the general football public all agreeing upon the claim that Chelsea forward should have been sent off.
Call it karma, faith, destiny or purely an amusing string of events, the same player went on to score the winning goal for his side, going from villain to hero in an hour’s time.
No Stranger to Antics
It would take plenty of time to remember all of the little frustrating details Diego Costa has treated us since he stepped on the biggest stage, as he has never been a stranger to on-pitch antics.
An urban legend – still unofficially confirmed – claims Diego Costa’s first words as a Chelsea player were “I go to war. You follow me.”
Two short sentences perfectly sum up everything Diego Costa does on the pitch for his team. Undeterred in his intention to win, the Spaniard will not hesitate to inflict dirty punches, push, shove, provoke and choke anyone who stands in his way.
In addition to dissent and that harsh tackle on Adrian, Diego Costa attacked one of his own against West Ham. The Chelsea forward appeared to exchange a heated argument and with team-mate Nemanja Matic and even shoved the Serbian after being booked in the 20th minute.
We all remember it so well because it’s been only eight months since he threw his bib at Jose Mourinho in protest over not being introduced in play against Tottenham Hotspur. His manager at the time opted to utilize Eden Hazard upfront and despite it looked like Costa would come into the match, Mourinho decided not to introduce him.
After ten minutes of jogging near the touchline Costa returned to the bench and tossed his bib at his head coach to speak his mind over Mourinho’s decision.
New Season, Old Frolics
Costa’s fierce nature and fiery temperament were once again at display in Blues’ first pre-season game against Rapid Vienna. Thirteen minutes into the game, while jostling for the ball with Srdjan Grahovac, Costa was ruffled by the Rapid Vienna player prompting a trademark reaction from the Spaniard.
Costa pulled his rival’s shirt confronting the player, trying to start a fight. He went even further by chasing down the referee confronting him by hurling abuse in Spanish and giving Antonio Conte a clear preview of what was to be expected from the 27-year-old striker.
A hot head himself, the Italian tactician Antonio Conte was expected to offload Diego Costa straight away and the Spaniard’s future still remains in slight doubt despite his winning performance last night. He was reportedly offered to Napoli earlier in the summer, but Antonio Conte insists he has no problems with Premier League’s greatest villain.
The footballing community still has doubts over whether two hot heads can work under the same roof though, but Costa will be in the clear as long as he keeps scoring goals to improve his last season’s poor record of 12 goals for Blues.
Chelsea are given 5/1 betting odds on winning the Premier League title this season and the Spaniard will be expected to be on his best behaviour in order to make it happen. From what we have seen in just 90 minutes of the new season that is unlikely to happen.
Can Diego Costa play an integral role in Conte’s title-chasing campaign though?