Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: Costa rescues Blues in Conte’s Premier League debut


Diego Costa probably shouldn’t have even been on the field in the first place, but Diego Costa wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Premier League’s favorite heel survived a potential second yellow card to rescue the Blues with an 89th minute winner, giving new manager Antonio Conte all three points in his first Premier League match.

Eden Hazard buried a penalty to give Chelsea a first-half lead, but it looked a howitzer from James Collins against the run of play with 13 minutes to go would force the two sides to share the points. Conte was unmoved, making tactical adjustments along with pacey substitutions, and the players delivered.

The game was hotly contested from the opening minute. N'Golo Kante received a yellow card just three minutes into the game for pulling down Andy Carroll on a breakaway.

The Blues had the first real chance on goal 12 minutes in as Branislav Ivanovic wrong-footed his defender on the edge of the area with a nice cutback and tried to squeeze a shot inside the near post, but Adrian reacted quickly to keep the game scoreless. Five minutes later Oscar went down at the top of the box looking for a penalty, and in the aftermath Diego Costa earned himself a yellow card, and Collins was cautioned for bringing down the striker on 20 minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

Just past the half-hour mark, Hazard rifled just wide from a tight angle after slicing past three Hammers defenders. The rest of the first half was quiet, but the second half started with a bang.

Just a minute in, Michail Antonio barged into the back of Cesar Azpilicueta in the penalty area, leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Hazard buried the spot kick, and Chelsea had its lead, as well as a milestone goal.

Antonio was yanked by West Ham manager Slaven Bilic just minutes later for Sam Byram, and many on social media noticed the stark lack of communication between the two as Antonio came off the field.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

There was a bit of controversy surrounding – guess who! – Diego Costa, who scythed down Adrian while already on a yellow. It appeared a heavy challenge, but the referee left it unpunished other than awarding a common foul.

In the 77th minute, the game changed. Chelsea seemed in control, but the Hammers earned themselves a pair of set-pieces. Dimitri Payet – on as a substitute – was unsuccessful with a free-kick just outside the box, but moments later the Frenchman delivered a corner that ping-ponged around the box, eventually falling to Collins near the penalty spot who ripped a fizzing equalizer into the back of the net.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea began to bypass the midfield in an attempt to get back on top, pumping the ball forward over the final 10 minutes, and while the first few attempts were sloppy, substitutes Victor Moses, Pedro, and Michy Batshuyai were used effectively for their pace and technical abilities. Pedro came close in the final five minutes, but Chelsea would have their moment.

A long ball from midfield found the head of Batshuyai, who laid it off to Costa outside the top of the box. A pair of West Ham defenders failed to close him down, and the Spanish international let rip a low effort past Adrian and into the far corner. The goal sent Stamford Bridge into a frenzy, and Conte predictably participated in the pandimonium with a wild celebration.

Watford chasing Rennes, Senegal star Sarr

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Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.

Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.

The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.

Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

WATCH: Marco Fabian smashes set piece goal

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Marco Fabian sent a missile toward goal, and perhaps it’s good the goalkeeper didn’t get to the hand-breaking shot.

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead over Chicago on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, thanks to the Mexican midfielder.

[ REPORT: Man Utd locks up De Gea ]

It was a pretty set piece from Jim Curtin’s men, a backwards played free kick was laid off to Fabian for his audacious rip.

Fabian hasn’t had a wonderful 2019 season, but his fourth goal of the season will give Union supporters hope that he’ll pick up his form and make the already East-leading side all the more dangerous.