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Chelsea 2-1 West Ham Utd

Filed: Monday, 15th August 2016
By: Staff Writer

Diego Costa grabbed an 89th-minute winner for Chelsea in tonight's Premier League opener at Stamford Bridge on a night when he could - and perhaps should - have been booked FOUR times.

The Spanish international - who was already on a yellow before committing three further bookable offences, all of which referee Anthony Taylor ignored - struck the winning goal with seconds to spare after James Collins' 77th-minute strike looked to have rescued a point for the Hammers.

West Ham, missing the likes of Angelo Ogbonna, Manuel Lanzini and Aaron Cresswell also started without Dimitri Payet, who is still recovering from his Euro 16 exploits.

And despite enjoying the bulk of possession in the opening half hour, the Hammers failed to seriously test Thibaut Courtois until Collins recorded United's first effort on target with his goal, 13 minutes from time.

By that time the hosts had perhaps deservedly taken the lead through a 47th-minute Hazard penalty, conceded by Michail Antonio who inadvertently felled Cesar Azpilicueta inside the box.

The right winger, playing again at full back was rewarded by being instantly replaced by Sam Byram - and ignored by manager Slaven Bilic as he trudged dejectedly back to the visitors' dugout.

Thereafter Byram proved an able replacement for Antonio, playing on the opposite side to new signing Arthur Masuaku who was one of three players making their Premier League debuts in United's starting XI.

Havard Nordtveit and Andre Ayew also started for the first time although the latter's evening was cut short just 35 minutes in after he suffered a thigh strain, an injury that will be assessed tomorrow morning. Gokhan Tore made his debut from the bench as a replacement for the stricken Ayew.

Chelsea, despite looked in control after taking the lead were always susceptible to a sucker punch holding such a slender lead. And it was James Collins who delivered what appeared to be a knockout blow when he steered the ball through a cluster of bodies to draw West Ham level 13 minutes from time.

That was until Costa fired across Adrian from an acute angle to win all three points for the hosts with little more than a minute of normal time remaining. Controversially, because had referee Anthony Taylor applied the letter of the law correctly the Spaniard might have been dismissed twice before scoring his goal - and once more again thereafter!

Booked for dissent in the first half, Costa deliberately raked Adrian's shin in the second only for Taylor to simply award a free kick; the ugly challenge was quite possibly worthy of a straight red on its own.

Minutes later his attempt at simulation inside West Ham's penalty area also went unpunished, as did the removal of his shirt whilst celebrating the winning goal. Although they were poor tonight, it's fair to say the Hammers haven't had the best of luck with match officials at Stamford Bridge this calendar year.

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