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Dangerman Diego downs Foxes


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Diego Costa netted on his Stamford Bridge début as Chelsea scored two second-half goals to overcome a resolute Leicester City.

After a rather insipid opening forty-five minutes, the game exploded after the break with both sides creating excellent goalscoring opportunities.

Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel made two outstanding stops from Branislav Ivanovic either side of Oscar rattling the goalframe with a curling effort, whilst at the opposite end Thibaut Courtois produced a miraculous one-on-one save after David Nugent ran clear.

But in a game that Chelsea bossed both territorially and in terms of ball possession, it came as no surprise when Costa was able to give the Blues a warranted breakthrough on 63 minutes.

Rather than capitulate, Leicester continued to defend manfully, but up against a Blues offence boasting pace, guile and ingenuity, the constant pressure eventually told and Eden Hazard was on hand to make the points safe with a trademark drive from the edge of the box.

Chelsea produced 27 shots on goal - ten of which on target - most of which in a second period full of attacking dynamism and flair. It is a tell-tale sign of Chelsea's Premier League title candidacy that they were ultimately able to overcome their stubborn opponents - last year it was precisely this sort of game that cost the Blues in the race for the league crown.

José Mourinho opted for the same starting eleven that so gloriously disposed of Burnley on Monday evening, though Ramires was welcomed back into the first team fold as a substitute following his absence through suspension - and the sort of direct play offered by the Brazilian was precisely the thing Chelsea were short of in the opening exchanges.

It was in fact the visitors who had the first shot in anger, as Mahrez produced a low save out of Courtois with a fierce drive from the edge of the box.

It was clear Leicester would not be content with parking the bus and hoping for the best, and when Chelsea finally showed some penetration with 35 minutes played, Wes Morgan was on hand to throw himself in front of Costa's goalbound effort after a clever cut-back by Hazard.

That represented Chelsea's best and only meaningful opportunity in a half largely controlled by Nigel Pearson's side. Whatever Mourinho said to his charges at half-time seemed to do the trick, though, as his side re-emerged with renewed fire after the interval.

Their intentions were signalled inside two minutes when Oscar's bending shot beat Schmeichel but not the base of the far post, and just 23 seconds later the City goalkeeper was forced into action to beat away a Branislav Ivanovic header.

Courtois was then called into action in the most significant moment of his fledgling Stamford Bridge career so far when he expertly denied Nugent one-on-one. The importance of that save cannot be underestimated in determining the final result of this game.

Schmeichel was proving an equally unbreachable barrier as he made a full-length save to divert an Ivanovic drive wide, and minutes afterwards he was again required to parry over a cheeky chip by Cesc Fabregas.

Costa then supplied the telling touch as he converted a deflected Ivanovic cross after 63 minutes, and after Hazard had already once had one shot saved, the Belgian provided the killing blow just ten minutes later as he beat a swathe of defenders before threading the ball underneath Schmeichel via a slight deflection.

By that time both Ramires and Willian had been introduced, and the Brazilian duo's energy had served only to take the game away from Leicester - and the latter may well have added to the scoreline when his fierce strike was tipped over after a mazy run.

The loudest cheer of the day was reserved for the return to Stamford Bridge of Didier Drogba as the Blues threw down a marker in their challenge for the title following a more testing afternoon than many people predicted.

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