Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Chelsea Welcome Antonio Conte With Victory Over Hammers

Antonio Conte has found that life at Stamford Bridge can be filled with spills, thrills and bellyaches. And this was only from the opening match of the 2016-17 Premier League season. Chelsea defeated West Ham United on Monday night by a final score of 2-1, with everyone’s favourite Premier League villain Diego Costa finding the winner in the 89th minute.

Scoreless at halftime, the match was filled with drama in the second half and almost saw the Blues drop valuable points at home.

A penalty kick converted by Eden Hazard gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute until West Ham defender James Collins found the equaliser in the 77th minute to put the match back on level terms.

It seemed the Hammers were going to hang on for a crucial road point, only to see Costa push Chelsea in front moments before stoppage time.

We look at what led to Chelsea finding their first win under new manager Antonio Conte.

Effort and Desire

While there were reports that many of the Chelsea players gave up on Jose Mourinho by the start of last year, Eden Hazard seemed to show exactly how much of a difference a new manager can make for him as a player.

Tracking back and running hard for every challenge, the Belgian midfielder looked reborn. He was dangerous throughout the first half and found the first goal of the match on a thunderous penalty kick high above the reach of West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

It looks as though we could see a strong campaign from Hazard in 2016-17.

Solid Defensive Structure

Many expected the arrival of Conte to usher in a stronger defensive structure and tactical approach at Chelsea. After years of success in the defence-first world of the Italian Serie A, it has become a trademark of Conte teams to be disciplined and organised at the back.

That was certainly the case on Monday night.

While West Ham were certainly not at their best, strong performances from Gary Cahill, John Terry and N’Golo Kante helped limit the Hammers to only 3 shots on goal.

Early Penalty in Second Half Sets Up Success

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian had done a fine job in the first half of keeping the match scoreless until his right-back Michail Antonio gave the hosts an opportunity to strike first.

A clumsy tackle in the penalty area gave Hazard the chance to take a 1-0 lead, and he took that chance spectacularly well.

West Ham’s Poor Form

With star midfielder Dimitri Payet playing a limited role due to his fitness off of Euro 2016 and coming on late in the second half, Chelsea were fortunate to not see their opposition playing at their best.

West Ham’s scoring chances were few and far between for most of the night. While the Hammers fought valiantly to find the tying goal, on another day they could have found more from this fixture.

Costa Remains On The Pitch After A Brutal Challenge

Referee Anthony Taylor chose not to send off forward Diego Costa after a rough challenge in the second half, where he upended West Ham goalkeeper Adrian. Having received a yellow card in the first half for dissent, his eventual match-winning goal could have easily not been possible in the match’s final moments.

Chelsea were fortunate by some of the officials’ decisions, as a physical and cagey encounter was evident throughout the proceedings.

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