Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: Costa gets the Conte era up and running with late winner

The Blues edged to a 2-1 win at home to the Hammers.

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: Costa gets the Conte era up and running with late winner
Chelsea players celebrate their first goal (photo; Getty Images)
Chelsea
2 1
West Ham
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Kante, Matic, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Costa.
West Ham: Adrian, Antonio, Reid, Collins, Masuaku, Kouyate, Nordtveit, Noble, Ayew, Carroll, Valencia.
SCORE: 1-0, Hazard 47'. 1-1, Collins 76'. 2-1, Costa 88'.
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (ENG): Booked - Kante, Costa, Collins, Antonio, Azpilicueta, Pedro.
INCIDENTS: Premier League game at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte's reign as Chelsea manager got off to a winning start at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, as Diego Costa's late strike earned the hosts all three points in a 2-1 win against West Ham United

After a first half which saw Chelsea on top for the majority, the Blues finally got their lead from the penalty spot just minutes into the second 45, Eden Hazard converting. It looked like they wouldn't hold on for all three points, defender James Collins rifling in from 15 yards as the game reached the closing stages. However, Diego Costa settled proceedings by lasering an effort into the bottom corner with just two minutes left on the clock.

Chelsea on top for the first half

Costa was given a starting spot by Conte, despite ongoing speculation that the Italian is looking to replace the striker with Romelu Lukaku, yet it was Oscar the provided the most early attacking threat. 

The Brazilian pinched the ball from Mark Noble in midfield, before evading one challenge and seemingly skipping past Winston Reid in the penalty area, before going down under the defender's challenge. Penalty appeals were loud, but nothing was given.

Hazard then went close, curling wide with an effort not too dissimilar to his goal against Liverpool in the closing weeks of last season. 

It was all Chelsea for large parts of the half, West Ham looking a shadow of the side that defeated so many big teams away from home last season. Costa finally got his eye in, striking just over the bar from some distance. 

Whilst the general consensus amongst home crowd was that it was an impressive first half, they needed a goal, and it was a goal that they got just minutes after play resumed. 

Hazard breaks the deadlock from penalty spot

It came from the penalty spot as Michail Antonio hauled down Cesar Azpilicueta with an ill-timed challenge, after the left-back reacted quickest to Adrian parrying Costa's shot back out. It took Eden Hazard an age to get his first goal last season, but he needed just 47 minutes this time, slamming the ball just under the crossbar. 

Chelsea continued to take their game to the visitors, Willian forcing Adrian into action once more, forcing Slaven Bilic into pressing the Dimitri Payet button, introducing the Frenchman off the bench.

Collins equalises before Costa wins it

He didn't make a telling contribution in all honesty, but the Hammers did level up from his free-kick, which was deflected out for a corner. It looked like the chance was gone, handball appeals all around as a header seemed to strike Azpilicueta, only for Collins to swing his left boot at the ball, thrashing it past Thibaut Courtois into the right hand corner. 

James Collins celebrates his goal (photo: Getty Images)
James Collins celebrates his goal (photo: Getty Images)

However, Chelsea continued to press after that, not settling for a point. Conte threw on new signing Michy Batshuayi, but is was a membr of the older guard that sealed his team all three points. Taking the ball in space, around halfway into the West Ham half, he drilled a low shot towards the corner, angling it such that he left Adrian stranded, taking the roof off the Bridge with his 88th minute winner.

His manager was delighted with it, running around passionately, even more so when the final whistle blew, Chelsea suffering some scares in injury time as Courtois was on hand to block from Payet.

Still, they held on to take an important three points, especially given the horror's of last season. Slightly concering for West Ham, but they'll be boosted by the knowledge that Payet is likely to be fit to start when they make their Premier League bow at the Olympic Stadium in a weeks time.