Costa strikes late to give Chelsea victory over West Brom
LONDON (AP) — Diego Costa struck late to give Chelsea a 1-0 victory over West Brom on Sunday and extend its winning run to nine Premier League games.
Chelsea struggled to break down its opponent for long periods but the determined Costa took advantage of a defensive error to produce a sublime winner 15 minutes from time.
Until that point West Brom had looked as though it would become the first visiting team to keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge this season, limiting the Blues to speculative long-range efforts for the most part.
“We faced a very tough, physical team, who are very difficult to break down,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. “I’m pleased because we showed great patience to find the right solution to win.
“Diego (Costa) is a great striker in every game he shows great work rate with and without the ball. He’s playing very well - I think he’s enjoying his football.”
West Brom remains eighth in the Premier League, with the defeat ending a four-game unbeaten run for Tony Pulis’ side.
“We were well set up without possession and we caused them some problems on the break, especially in the first half,” Pulis said.
“I’m disappointed for the players because they’ve put so much effort into the game - to get beaten by that one mistake.”
The home side dominated possession from start to finish but it was West Brom that came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half.
Chris Brunt had Thibaut Courtois sprawling to his right as his effort from the edge of the box went narrowly wide in the 19th minute, before Salomon Rondon had the Chelsea keeper similarly concerned as he came equally close just six minutes later.
Chelsea did tighten its grip on the game after those scares, but failed to create any clear chances with three David Luiz free kicks of varying accuracy representing their best efforts.
Conte introduced Willian and Cesc Fabregas shortly after the hour mark, switching to a more offensive formation and the move would ultimately pay off in the 76th.
Gareth McAuley seemed to be in control of a hopeful Fabregas pass down the right but hesitated for a moment, allowing the potent Costa to pounce and drive into the West Brom penalty area before curling his left-footed shot into the top corner.
The victory ensured both Chelsea and Costa returned to the top - the club of the Premier League and its striker in the division’s scoring charts, as he took his total to 12 goals for the campaign.