Diego Costa should not have been on the pitch to score Chelsea’s winner against West Ham but was not reckless in upending Adrian, according to Slaven Bilic.
Costa avoided a second yellow card for his late challenge on the goalkeeper, then fired the last-gasp winner as Chelsea prevailed 2-1 last night.
The Spain striker handed Antonio Conte the ideal start to his Premier League career at Stamford Bridge, but Hammers boss Bilic refused to criticise the 27-year-old.
“I saw that incident again, I don’t think it was reckless,” said Bilic. “It was from my point of view not deliberate, but it was very late.
“Nine times out of 10 you see that challenge and get one (a yellow card) – unfortunately this was the 10th time.
“But really I am only disappointed with the late goal.
“I don’t know what he (the referee) wanted to do, but he didn’t give it and that’s it.”
Eden Hazard’s penalty handed Chelsea the perfect second-half start, only for James Collins to blast a late equaliser.
West Ham were unable to hold out for the draw, however, with Costa sliding into the bottom corner with one minute to play.
Referee Anthony Taylor booked Costa for dissent in the first half, but refused to act on the striker’s lunge on Adrian.
Captain Mark Noble added: “A couple of decisions went against us. It’s a yellow isn’t it? I’ve seen the tackle and he (Costa) wiped his (Adrian’s) ankle out completely.”