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Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Antonio Conte praises 'great discipline' of Diego Costa in Chelsea win

Antonio Conte praises 'great discipline' of Diego Costa in Chelsea win

Antonio Conte is at loggerheads with Chelsea's board over the club's transfer policy despite his side's 10-point lead at the top of the English Premier League table.

There had been speculations that he could be set for a spell on the sidelines following an injury that forced him to limp-off the pitch during the gave that had Chelsea pummeling Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, on Monday, to advance to FA Cup semifinal.

"He trained well. I think he is available for the the game against Stoke", said the Italian.

It must have felt like a defining triumph for Conte because, on a day when he was without his injured talisman Eden Hazard, Chelsea, while not at their scintillating best, dug in to prevail in a mental and physical battle at the home of feisty opponents.

The Blues led after 13 minutes when Willian caught Lee Grant out with a near-post free-kick for his first top-flight goal since scoring a double in the reverse of this fixture in December.

Gary Cahill atoned for conceding a penalty by scoring the late victor that saw Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 13 points. I really enjoyed it - a good Premier League game with no quarter given or asked. And even on days when the "fantasy" of Hazard deserts them, Chelsea's dream season goes on unhindered.

And as Stoke headed for defeat, they had Phil Bardsley sent off deep into injury time.

Jonathan Walters strikes from the spot for Stoke's equaliser. As dips in form go, it is one most strikers would take but nobody is talking about Costa as a potential PFA Player of the Year now.

- Cesar Azpilicueta made his 150th Premier League appearance for Chelsea, becoming the first Spaniard to reach this milestone for the Blues.

Boosted by four points from their last two games - victory over Middlesbrough and the scoreless draw with Man City - Hughes said that the Potters will enter tonight's game with confidence.

There was more than an element of fortune in Chelsea's winning goal on 87 minutes, too late for a tiring Stoke to conjure one final twist.

DF Kurt Zouma, NR - Replaced Willian after Cahill scored and added weight to Chelsea's defence.

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