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Conte tells Costa to remain steadfast amid criticism from media

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Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (R) shoots to score their scond goal during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on August 20, 2016. Ian Kington / AFP

Chelsea’s Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (R) shoots to score their scond goal during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on August 20, 2016.<br />Ian Kington / AFP

Antonio Conte has urged Diego Costa to focus on his football and not let the criticism of him affect his impressive start to the 2016-17 campaign.

Costa netted his second goal of the Premier League season on Saturday as Chelsea came from a goal down to beat Watford 2-1, the Spain international slotting home the decisive goal with three minutes to play.

However, his performance attracted criticism with some suggesting the striker should not have even been on the pitch to convert Cesc Fabregas’ through ball.

Having already been booked Costa appeared to dive to try and win a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, but he was given the benefit of the doubt by referee Jon Moss.

Not all onlookers were so forgiving, though, with some pundits and voices within football critical of the 27-year-old’s display.

“I don’t understand that other players or managers or press all say bad [things] about him,” said Conte.

“Diego must be focused on the match. Because for me, the most important thing is the match, it’s important to pay attention, because he is an important player and he can score a lot of goals and I want him to put himself in the game and not to think of other situations.

“Because it is not good for him, for me, for Chelsea or the fans. I think for the English league, this is not good.

“Have I spoken to him about it? Yes, I try to speak to all my players – all together and individually and its important to have relations. But when I speak to them, I keep it between ourselves.”

And Conte hopes Chelsea’s winning start to the new season can boost confidence throughout his squad as they look to put their dreadful 2015-16 campaign behind them.


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